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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Leith.] DEATH OF JAMES 111. 201 1488-he embarked in one of Sir Andrew?s ships then anchored in the Roads of Leith, and landed from it in Fifeshire. As the Admiral had been lying there for some time, intending to sail to Flanders, the Barons, now in arms against the Crown, spread a report that James had fled, surprised the castle of Dunbar, furnished themselves with arms and ammunition out of the royal arsenal, ? and,? says Abercrombie, ? overran the three Lothians and the Merse, rifling and plundering all honest men.? In April, 1488, the king re-crossed the Forth in the admiral?s ship, and, marching past Stirling, pitched his standard near Blackness, where his army mustered thirty thousand, and some say forty thousand, strong, but was disbanded after an indecisive skirmish. Fresh intrigues ensued that belong to general history; two other armies, in all amounting to nearly seventy thousand men, took the field James 111. had no alternative but to take flight in the ships of Wood, then cruising in the Forth, or to resort to the sword on the 11th June, 1488. His army took up a position near the Bum of Sauchie, while ?? Sir Andrew Wood, attending to the fortune of war, sailed up the silver winding of the beautiful river with the FZmw and YelZow CaraveZ, and continued during the whole of that cloudless day to cruise between dusky Alloa and the rich Carse of Stirling, then clothed im all the glory of summer.? On the right bank of the river he kept several boats ready to receive the king if defeat-as it eventually did-fell upon him, and he often landed, with his brothers John and Robert and a body of men, to yield any assistance in his power. While attempting to reach the ships James was barbarously slain, and was lying dead in a mill that still stands by the wayside, when rumour went that he had reached the YeZZow Caravd Thus Wood received a message in the name of the Duke of Rothesay (afterwards James IV.), as to the truth of this story; but Sir Andrew declared that the king was not with him, and refilsed to go on shore, when invited, without hostages for his own safety. The Lords Fleming and Seaton came on board in this capacity, and landing at Leith the admiral was conducted to the presence of the Prince, who was then a captive and tool in the hands of the rebels, and only in his sixteenth year. Wood was arrayed in handsome armour, and so dignified was he in aspect, and so much did he resemble the king his master, that the Prince, who had seen little of the latter, shed tears, and said, timidly- ?? Sir, are you my father? ? . Then this true old Scottish mariner, heedless of 123 the titled crowd which regarded him with bitter hostility, and touched to the heart by the question, also burst into tears, and said- ? I am not your father, but his faithful servant, and the enemy of all who have occasioned his downfall ! ? ? Where is the king, and who are those you took on board after the battle?? demanded several of the rebel lords. ?? As for the king, I know nothing of him. Finding our efforts to fight for or to save him vain, my brother and I returned to our ships.? He added, says Buchanan, ?that if the king were alive he would obey none but him; ,and that if slain, he would revenge him ! ? He then went off to the ships, but just in time to save the hostages, whom his impatient brothers were about to hang at the yard-arm. The lords now wanted the mariners of Leith to arm their ships, and attack Wood; but, to a man, they declined. In the early part of 1489 Henry of England, to make profit out of the still disturbed state of Scotland, sent five of his largest ships to waste and burn the sea-coast villages of Fife and the Lothians ; and the young James IV., in wrath at these proceedings, requested Sir Andrew Wood to appear before the Privy Council and take measures to curb the outrages of the English. He at once undertook to attack them ; but James, as they outnumbered him by three, advised him to equip more vessels. ?? No: he replied,? ?? I shall only take my own two-the FZower and the Jl?ellow Carard.? Accordingly, .with the first fair wind on a day in February, he dropped down the Firth, and found the plunder-laden English vessels hovering off Dunbar, and which Tytler surmises to have been pirates, as they came in time of truce. Wood at once engaged them, and after an obstinate conflict, of which no details are preserved, he brought them all prizes into Leith. He presented their captains to the young king, who now further rewarded him on the 11th March, 1490, with the lands of Balbegnoth, the superiority of Inchkeith, the lands of Dron and Newbyrn ; and by a charter under the Great Seal, 18th May, 1491, he granted to Sir Andrew Wood ? license to build a castfe at Largo with gates of iron as a reward for the great services done and losses sustained by the said Andrew, and for those services which there was no doubt he would yet render.? This castle, fragments of which yet remain, he appears to have built, with some adjacent houses, by the hands of English pirates whom he had captured at sea; and the coat
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202 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith. .armorial he adopted was argent, a tree or, with two ships under sail. It was still time of truce when Henry, mortified by the defeat of his five ships, exhorted his most .able seamen ? to purge away this stain cast on the English name,? and offered the then noble pension of &I,OOO per annum to any man who could accomplish Wood?s death or capture ; and the task was taken in hand by Sir Stephen Bull (originally a merchant of London), who, with three of Henry?s largest ships manned by picked crews, and having on board companies of crossbowmen, pikemen, and many volunteers of valour and good birth, sailed from the Thames in July, 1490, and entering the Firth of Forth, came to anchor under the lee of the Isle of May, there to await the return of Wood from Sluys, and for whose approach he kept boats scouting to seaward. On the morning of the 18th of August the two ships of Wood hove in sight, and were greeted with exultant cheers by the crews of Bull, who set some inlets of wine abroach, and gave the orders to unmoor and clear away for battle. Wood recognised the foe, and donninghis armour, gave orders to clear away too ; and his brief ha- Iangue, modernised, is thus given by Lindesay of Pitscottie and others :- ? My lads, these are the foes who would convey us in bonds to the foot of an English king, but by your courage and the help of God they shall fail ! Repair every man to his station-charge home, gunners-cross-bowmen to the tops-two-handed swords to the fore-rooms-lime-pots and fire-balls in the tops ! Be stout, men, and true for the honour of Scotland and your own sakes. Hurrah!? Shouts followed, and stoups of wine went round. His second in command was Sir David Falconer, who was afterwards slain at Tantallon. The result of the battle that ensued is well known. It was continued for two days and a night, during which the ships were all grappled together, and drifted into the Firth of Tay, where the English were all taken, and carried as prizes into the harbour of Dundee. Wood presented Sir Stephen Bull and his surviving officers to Jarnes IV., who dismissed them unransomed, with their ships, ? because they fought not for gain, but glory,? and Henry dissemkled his rage by returning thanks. For this victory Wood obtained the sea town as well as the nether town of Largo, and soon afteI his skilful eye recommended the Bay of Gourock ta James as a capable harbour. In 1503 he led a fleet against the insurgent chiefs of the Isles. Hi$ many brilliant services lie apart from the immediate history of Leith. Suffice it to say that he was pre. I sent at the battle of Linlithgow in 1526, and wrapped the dead body of Lennox in his own scarlet mantle. Age was coming on him after this, and he retired to his castle of Largo, where he seems to have lived somewhat like old Commodore Trunnion, for there is still shown the track of a canal formed by his order, on which he was rowed to mass daily in Largo church in a barge by his old crew, who were all located around him, He is supposed to have died abodt 1540, and was buried in Largo church. One of his sons was a senator of the College of Justice in 1562 ; and Sir Andrew Wood, third of the House of Largo, was Comptroller of Scotland in 1585. Like himself, the Bartons, the shipmates and friends of Sir -4ndrew, all attained high honour and fame, though their origin was more distinguished than his, and they were long remembered among the fighting captains of Leith. John Barton, a merchant of Leith in the time of James III., had three sons : Sir Andrew, the hero of the famous nautical ballad, who was slain in the Downs in 151 I, but whose descendants still exist ; Sir Robert of Overbarnton in 1508, Comptroller of the Household to James V. in 1520; John, an eminent naval commander under James 111. and James IV., who died in t 5 13,and was buried at Kirkcudbright. The Comptroller?s son Robert married the heiress of Sir John Mowbray of Barnbougle, who died in 151 y ; and his descendants became extinct in the person of Sir Robert of Overbarnton, Barnbougle, and Inverkeithing. Our authorities for these and a few other memoranda concerning this old Leith family are a ?Memoir of the Familyof Barton, &c.,? by J. Stedman, Esq., of Bath (which is scarce, only twelve copies having been printed), Tytler, Pinkerton, and others. For three generations the Bartons of Leith seem to have had a kind of family war with the Portuguese, and their quarrel began in the year 1476, when John Barton, senior, on putting to sea froin Sluys, in Flanders, in a king?s ship, the ]iZiai?nnn, laden with a valuable cargo, was unexpectedly attacked by two armed Portuguese caravels, commanded respectively by Juan Velasquez and Juan Pret. The JiZiana was taken ; many of her crew were slain or captured, the rest were thrust into a boat and cut adrift. Among the latter was old John Barton, who proceeded to Lisbon to seek indemnity, but in vain; and he is said by one account to have been assassinated by Pret or Velasquez to put an end to the affair. By another he is stated to have been alive in 1507, and in command of a ship called the Liun, which was seized at Campvere, in Zealand-unless it can be that the John referred to
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