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and educated at the University of St. Andrews. He was afterwards appointed Governor of Berwick, and he received from James VI. the further honour of knighthood.
'Sir James Dundas was a zealous agriculturist, at a time when the poverty of the country and its backward condition raised obstacles to improvement greater than can now be conceived. Runrig and tenancy in common, vexatious servitudes, the absence of roads and facilities for carriage, the miserable condition of live stock, arising from the want of winter food, and the wretchedness of the accominodation for both man and beast, were but a few of the difficulties with which an im. prover in the sixteenth century had to contend.' (P. 8.)
The above, and some details of his estate management, are almost all that Mr. Omond tells us of the first Sir James Dundas of Arniston. But as the politics—which in the sixteenth century inevitably included the religion-of our leading Scottish families is always of interest to the historical student of that period, we should have liked if some light had been thrown upon Sir James's politics in his earlier years. This question is here raised in allusion to a trial, to which Mr. Omond makes no reference, and in which Sir James figured as the party prosecuted. The trial, which is given by Pitcairn (vol. ii. p. 67), is curious partly for the light which it throws upon the relations of the lesser nobility to the higher barons, and partly for the connexion which it has with the Earl of Angus, one of the three great 'popish lords' of the period. The offence for which Sir James was placed at the bar was in itself a trilling one. In 1593, an Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament'anent the wear
ing of hackbutts and pistoletts,' in which it was stated that former ordinances on the subject had been disregarded,
wherethrough vile murders and frequent slaughters' had been committed. The readiness, indeed, with which this comparatively new weapon could be used, and was used, in Scotland at that time had given much trouble to those responsible for the public peace. Besides, as that sneering cripple, Sir Mungo Malagrowther, puts it, King James himself 'had a special ill will at all arms whatsoever, and more • especially pistols. Hence it was now ordained that all persons were liable to be searched by the officers of his majesty's guard, and if found to be carrying such weapons without sufficient authority were to be apprehended. Sir James Dundas of Arniston was one of the persons so apprehended; and in December 1598 he was placed at the bar of the High Court charged with the unlawful bearing and wearing of pistoletts.' He admitted having had these arms
in his possession ; but pled that at the time libelled he had been commanded by the Earl of Angus, then Lieutenant of the Borders, to accompany him thither to a Justice Court to be held at Peebles on October 9 and 10, and that consequently he, Sir James, ' did na wrang to provide himself of . armour' upon the preceding day. He further pled—and
, this plea, Pitcairn notes, affords a striking illustration of the original use of the word "servitour'--that he was, at that time, domestic servitour and proper depender upon my · Lord of Angus, like as he was divers years of before, which statement, he adds,“ is offered to be verified presently
by my Lord of Angus's own declaration, wha is personally .present. The prosecutor, however, would not listen to
' these pleas. The accused, he said, did not live within the bounds of Angus's lieutenancy, and the place where the 'crime is libelled to be committed' was in the highway between Niddrie and Kirkliston, in the county of Linlithgowconsequently a long way from the Borders. He, moreover, could not accept the Earl of Angus as an admissible witness for the accused, seeing that Sir James was so nearly related to his lordship ‘baith in affinity and consanguinity.' Sir James, at this stage, withdrew his pleas, and referred himself to the king's mercy; and we hear no more of the matter.
The trial is, of itself, of little moment; but, as already remarked, it is noticeable for two things. In the first place, it affords an instance of the eagerness with which the younger sons of the lesser barons and gentry attached themselves to the households of the higher barons, doubtless in the hope of thereby finding a ready way to promotion and office. The situation bears no analogy to that implied in our modern use of the word “servitor.' In this case we have a knight, a man of good birth and rank, designating himself as Lord Angus's
domestic servitour,' and a proper depender' upon his lordship. Sir James's relationship to his lordship both by affinity
and consanguinity' is also obvious, for both of them were, apart from whatever other ties of pedigree, closely related to the family of the Oliphants; the Countess of Angus being the fourth Lord Oliphant's daughter, and Katherine Oliphant, the mother of Sir James, being the same Lord Oliphant's sister. We have already seen that Katherine Oliphant was a 'prudent dame,' said to have provided an estate for her son out of her pin-money; and probably one other
way she took to advance her boy's fortune was to have him placed in the service of her kinsman Lord Angus. But the chief point of interest brought out in the trial is the
relation in which Sir James, the son of a leading Protestant,* stood to Lord Angus, who with Errol and Huntley formed, shortly before, the head and front of the popish party militant in Scotland. Only a few years previous to this time, Angus and his followers were openly in arms against King James, and they even defeated the king's forces under Argyll at Glenlivet so recently as October 1594. But in the end the 'popish lords' had to yield, though not till their estates had been forfeited and their lives placed in deadly peril. Only eighteen months before the date of the above trial, Angus was still an “excom'municat papist,' and it was only when compelled by the force of circumstances that he, along with Errol and Huntley, underwent the ordeal of a public conversion and recantation in St. Nicholas's Church, Aberdeen, and so was received into the fold of Presbytery, that he was restored to the favour of the king. When, therefore, Sir James Dundas pleads before the Court that he was then Angus's domestic servitour' and
proper depender,' as he had been for divers years' before, are we to infer that Sir James was united with the earl in his political schemes for the restoration of the ancient faith, and that he had taken part with Angus in his rebellion? The evidence before us is not sufficient to warrant an affirmative conclusion; but we should have been glad if the family papers had thrown any light upon a situation which offers to the curious reader a good many points of interest and enquiry. It would not have been at all strange had this divergence in the family politics been found to exist. For it was then indeed a time of marvellous trimming and setting of sails among the Scottish nobles and gentry. There was the English influence on the one side, and the French influence on the other. There was, besides, an unintermittent flow of natural jealousies through all the precincts of the Scottish Court itself, by which sometimes a whole party of nobles, sometimes even the king himself, had been wellnigh overwhelmed. The raid of Ruthven was not long past, and already the Gowrie conspiracy was in the air. Even the Reformation itself was only a thing of a generation; and amidst all these clashings of self-interest and personal ambi
* At the General Assembly held at Edinburgh in August 1588, Sir James's father, the Laird of Dundas, was one of an important deputation appointed to wait upon the king in person, and convey the thanks of the Assembly to his majesty. (Calderwood's History,' vol. iv. p. 684.)
tion and unscrupulous partisanship, it was scarcely to be wondered at that, constituted as human nature is, there should always have been men, and families, and sections of families, holding themselves in diverse attitudes of watchfulness and unrest, not knowing which way, when the storin came, the tree should fall.
At the date of the trial in question, Angus had made his peace with the king and been restored to office; and James's accession to the English throne a few years thereafter probably put an end to what necessity existed on the part of many of keeping a loose hold on the reformed religion. If Sir James Dundas ever did hang for a time between two opinions—a point which is only matter of speculation, not of knowledge-the occasion for it soon ceased to exist, and up to the time of his death in 1628 he seems to have lived quietly on his own estate, following after the religion of his father. His son James, by whom he was succeeded, was at the time of his death but a child of eight years. When this second James arrived at manhood, there was no doubt as to the principles, political and religious, to which he adhered ; and in the course of his career throughout the troubled period of the Commonwealth, the Restoration, and after, he exhibited a self-denying integrity of character, a noble and conscientious devotion to principle, such as reflects honour upon any family and upon any individual. His mother was a daughter of George Home of Wedderburn, and appears, during her son's minority, to have exercised over him a kind and loving control, not unmindful of his interests both inaterial and moral. Like his father, he was educated at St. Andrews University ; and when he arrived at maturity, he warmly espoused the cause of the Presbyterians.
Charles I. when he had visited Scotland in 1633, and been formally crowned at Holyrood, left behind him among his Scottish subjects a good many bitter seeds of discontent. He brought against himself the hostility of his nobles by desiring them to restore to the Church a portion of the property of which at the Reformation they had deprived it; and he likewise provoked the opposition of the clergy and the common people by seeking to force upon them certain hateful changes in the Church services and Church ritual. The king was right, and he was wrong. The claim upon the nobles was just and reasonable; the innovations upon the vestments of the clergy and the services of the Presbyterians were most unwise and undesirable. The end, as might have been expected, was a coalition between the nobles and the
clergy, which led to something like a constitutional struggle between the Scottish nation and the sovereign. It went on for years, culminating in 1638 in the first of the two famous Covenants, the National. This covenant was supported with marvellous unanimity; marvellous, in that it was a very rare thing in Scotland to find the nobles and the clergy acting in unison. Such unanimity had never been before, and has never been since. The nobles were moved with extraordinary zeal for the National Covenant; so much so, that, as Row tells us, many of the people called it the Noblemen's Covenant, ‘for they stirred more about it nor the most of ministers did.' To this covenant James Dundas of Arniston adhibited his name; but few of his fellows among the gentry, whatever their zeal for the time, adhered to the principles embraced in that covenant with such unshaken constancy as we shall find Dundas doing. He signed it in 1639, when under twenty years of age.
In 1640 he was made an elder of the church, and so qualified to sit in the church courts; and in the following year he was married to a daughter of Robert, Lord Boyd. That same year, 1641, King Charles visited Scotland, and sought, by a few graceful concessions to the popular demands, to make his failure in the recent contest with his subjects look less like defeat. Among other things, he conferred honours upon Argyll, Warristoun, and other Presbyterian leaders; and it is some acknowledgement of the part which young Dundas was already taking in public affairs, that at this time the king conferred a knighthood upon him. For some years we do not find that he appears conspicuously in public affairs, though he was active in 1646 in taking order with a drunken minister' in the courts of Dalkeith Presbytery. In 1648 he was returned to the Scottish Parliament as one of the members for Midlothian; and in 1650 we learn that the Presbytery of Dalkeith were questioning him as to why he had not yet signed the second great historic charter of Scottish rights and religion, the Solemn League and Covenant. He stated that he had certain scruples 'whereof he desired to be resolved. In the end he subscribed the Covenant, but for the next few years does not seem to have taken any leading part in the distracting events of the Commonwealth.
If Sir James Dundas had some hesitation in subscribing the Solemn League and Covenant, it was not from any want of fidelity to Presbyterian principles. This is rendered clear by what followed immediately upon the Restoration. That