July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO JOHN M'DIARMID ; 5 November 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471105-TC-JM-01; CL 22: 147-151



MR EDITOR,— Here is an excerpt, taken long, long ago, from the curious dim old book called Cabala, or Mysteries of State in Letters of Illustrious Persons, which I will send you for general benefit, and to clear my own repositories of it.1 To Dumfries-shire people it may have some momentary interest. A passing glimpse of the country, caught at first hand, on a critical occasion, near 300 years ago! The old book Cabala, often cited by historians, is by no means a rare book; but the Letters and other secret documents, being merely huddled together by some ignorant printer, without the smallest attempt at criticism, and the names especially of distant places and persons, being often frightfully mis-spelt, it is an exceedingly dim one, difficult to read,—which, accordingly, the general reader avoids, and knows little of. My edition is the second or last (London, 1663); and the excerpt is from pp. 175–6. In any tolerable History of Scotland during the year 1570 (Robertson, Book VI, for instance), the following state of matters, in the April of that year, will become manifest:

Regent Murray shot by an assassin at Linlithgow, some three months before;—Protestants hugely disconcerted thereby.2 Queen's party (Queen Mary is prisoner in Coventry Castle), Papists, neutrals, or whatever they are, getting into formidable activity;—some Border Lords already plundering in England, old Secretary Maitland3 and the chiefs busier still in the centre of affairs;—whereupon Queen Elizabeth, after due explanation to the Protestant party, orders Sussex and Scroope, her wardens, to invade Scotland both by the east and west marches, and quash all that disturbance.4 Which, as we know, they did to good purpose; and before long got Lennox appointed Regent, and the Swinburns, Herrieses, &c., reduced to order again.— And so the Lord Burleigh, Queen Elizabeth's Chief Minister,5 receives, by swift riders, the following despatches; and here is a glimpse of our poor old birthland,—both on the Caledonian and Nithsdale lines!—which by correction of the spelling, becomes totally luminous:—

I—The Rode of the Lord Scroope, Warden of the West Marches of England, into Scotland.

Who, the 17 (it should be 18) of April, at ten of the clock at night, with three thousand horse and foot, came to Ecclefechan*6 on the Wednesday night; and burned the town in the morning,—being from Carlisle 20 miles.

On Thursday we burned besides Hoddam, the Mains, the town and all the houses—which is the Lord Herries's, and from Carlisle 16 miles.— [Thinks mistakenly that he is marching homewards again, and at an unusual rate!]— That day they burned Trailtrow,—which is Lord Maxwell's, from Carlisle 16 miles. They burned the town of Raywell [Ruthwell, Rivvall], which is the Lord Cockpool's and the Lord Holmains'—from Carlisle 18 miles. They burned the House of Cockpool [mistake, as we shall see, they couldn't burn that] and the demesne of the Lord Cockpool,—from Carlisle 19 miles. They burned the town of Blackshaw, which is the Lord Maxwell's,—from Carlisle 19 miles. Item the town of Sherrington, of the same, 20 miles. Item the Bank-end, of the same Lord's, 20 miles. Item the town of Lockerwood, of the same Lord's, 20 miles.

Goods taken, the same Rode.— One thousand neat, one thousand sheep and goats. Of the Scots are taken 100 horsemen, within a mile of Dumfries.

Some say that Swynborne is taken.— Cabala, p. 175.

II.— Letter to the Lord Burleigh.

It may please you to be advertised: According to my Lord Lieutenant's [Sussex's] direction, I entered into Scotland on Tuesday at night last, the 18th of this April (1570), and on Wednesday at night encamped at Ecclefechan [Hecklefeugham, elsewhere Ellesingham], within Hoddam, distant from Carlisle 18 miles, and within Scotland 12 miles; and on Thursday in the morning [having burnt Ecclefechan], I sent forth Simon Musgrave, appointed by me as General of the Horsemen, to spoil the country, and to meet me at a place called Cummertrees. And the said Simon burnt the towns of Hoddam and the Mains, Trailtrow, Ryvval, and Cockpool; the town of Blackshaw, Sherrington, the Bank-end within three miles of Dumfries, Lochar and Locharwood,—and Ecclefechan (burnt in the morning); which towns were of the lands of the Lord Herries and Maxwell, the Lord of Cockpool, and the Lord Holmains [all Popishly given].

And as the said Simon and his company came to old Cockpool, there was the Lord Maxwell with his forces, and the inhabitants of Dumfries assembled; and they skirmished with the couriers, and compelled them to return to the said Simon; and then the said Simon marched into the town of Blackshaw with his company, where the Lord Maxwell was in order, and his forces; and the said Simon and Fergus Graham (Graime), with the number of 100 horsemen, did give charge upon the said Lord Maxwell, and made him flee, and his company also. In which fight there were a hundred prisoners taken; whereof the principal was the Alderman (Provost!) of Dumfries, and 16 of the Burgesses thereof; the rest were footmen. The chase was followed within one mile of Dumfries.

After which conflict the said Simon returned to Blackshaw aforesaid, and burnt it; and seized a great number of cattle, and delivered the same unto certain gentlemen and others to convey unto me. And he the said Simon rode with a hundred horsemen to burn the Bankend, Lochar, and Locharwood. And as the said gentleman [of the Blackshaw cattle], with their company came to a strait place, near unto old Cockpool,—the said Lord Maxwell, the Lord Carlyle, the Lords of Holmains, Closeburn, Lag, Amisfield, Cowhill, and Tynwald, with the number of 400 horsemen, and 600 footmen, charged them very sore; and forced them to alight, and draw their company to a strong place, to abide the charge of their enemies. And so they remained until the said Simon came unto them, and alighted, and put his company in order, and set his horses between the company and the sea; and so stood in order to receive the enemy; and in this sort continued, charging and receiving their charges, the space of three hours. I being at Cummertrees aforesaid, a place before appointed between the said Simon and me for his relief (being distant from him three miles), understanding of some distress,—sent my band of horsemen with my brother Edward Scroope, and 150 shot (musketeers) with Mr Audley and Mr Herbert, to their relief; and the said Simon, upon the coming of the said band of horsemen and shot, gave the enemy the charge with all his forces; whereupon they fled. In which flight there was taken 100 prisoners; whereof some were of the petty Lords (Lairds) of the country; but the Lord Maxwell, the Lord Carlyle, the Lord Johnston, and the rest before named, escaped, by the strength of the Lord (Laird) of Cockpool's house, and a great wood, and a morass that was near there adjoining. And so the said Simon repaired to me with his company; and so we returned home.

And thus, for this time, I commit you to the Almighty.

Yours assured to command,


Carlisle, 21st April, 1570.

P.S. Drumlangrig's servants and tenants, whom I had given charge that they should not be dealt withal, for that he favoured the King's faction (young King James's), and the Queen Majesty's (Queen Elizabeth), were as cruel against us as any others.— Sir, I have written to my Lord Lieutenant for 500 men but for fourteen days; and with them I will undertake to march to Dumfries, and lie in that town, and burn and spoil it, if the Queen's Majesty thinks good; for the open receipt of Her Majesty's rebels is there manifest.— Cabala (2d edit., London, 1663), p. 176.

No more at present from your obedient Servant,

Dumfries, 5th Nov., 1847.