Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kennedy, Gilbert (1517?-1558)

KENNEDY, GILBERT, third Earl of Cassilis (1517?–1558), succeeded his father, Gilbert, second earl of Cassillis [q. v.], in 1527, and for eleven years had a careful guardian in William Kennedy, abbot of Crosraguel. He was sent to St. Andrews, but probably only for a single session, as his name is not in the registers, and during his stay there, in February 1528, he was compelled to subscribe the death-warrant of Patrick Hamilton (Knox, Works, ed. Laing, vol. xvi.) On 30 Oct. following he was ‘discharged of all points of treason from being [with his father] at the battle beside Linlithgow,’ and in April 1530 his uncle took him to Paris. He remained there five years, and for tutor had George Buchanan, who dedicated to him his Latin translation of Linacre's ‘Latin Grammar’ (1533). Master and pupil returned together to Scotland about 1535, and it was at Cassillis's seat in Ayrshire that Buchanan composed his ‘Somnium.’ Shortly after his return the earl was made one of the lords of secret council to James V, and on 14 Oct. 1538 was served heir to his father. On 25 Nov. 1542 he was taken prisoner at the rout of Solway Moss, and after a short space in the Tower was placed on parole in the charge of Archbishop Cranmer. Douglas (Peerage, i. 330), Le Bas, and others claim that at Lambeth he was converted to protestantism. If so, his conversion was a rapid one, for on 26 Dec. he and fifteen others were dismissed upon hostages to be given for their return if they should not be able to effect a match between Queen Mary and Prince Edward. At the same time Henry VIII gave him a pension of three hundred marks. The earl's hostages, committed to the Archbishop of York, were his brothers David and Archibald, and his uncle, Thomas Kennedy of Coiff. His shameful neglect of them is shown by two letters in Lodge's ‘Illustrations’ (i. 46, 103); and the story that he returned to England to save their lives at the cost of his own (Buchanan, Rerum Scot. Hist.; Herbert, Henry VIII) is disproved by the fact that the pledges were conveyed into Scotland on 9 Feb. 1545, and that the earl did not repair to the English court till the 28th. His subsequent negotiations at Edinburgh on Henry's behalf were frustrated by Beaton; so in May he sent an offer to Sadler ‘for the killing of the cardinal, if his majesty would have it done, and would promise, when it were done, a reward.’ Henry, while highly approving of such ‘acceptable service to God,’ would ‘not seem to have to do in it,’ and Cassillis would not proceed without direct warrant. Meanwhile he had been an early supporter of George Wishart, who preached at Ayr against popery, and it was at Cassillis's invitation that Wishart in 1546 came from Dundee to Midlothian, as it was owing to Cassillis's failure to meet him that the reformer fell into the hands of the cardinal.

On 10 June 1546 he was present at a convention of nobles at Stirling, where, with Henry's other partisans, he discharged all bands made with the king of England, and he was one of the twenty peers selected to attend by fours in succession the governor, Arran, at his secret council. Yet even now he did not renounce the shameful English intrigues which had led him a year before to send Hertford advice as to an invasion in time of harvest, for after the defeat of Pinkie (1547) he made secret terms with the Protector. In the autumn of 1550 he attended Mary of Lorraine to France, in October 1552 he agreed with Angus, Glencairn, and the sheriff of Ayr ‘to stand with the Dowager against the Governor’ (Arran), in 1554 he was appointed lord high treasurer, and in 1557 he, Arran, Huntly, and Argyll refused to aid the queen regent in an invasion of England. In February 1558 he was sent with seven other commissioners to represent Scotland at the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots to the dauphin. Their refusal to send for the ‘honours’ or regalia of Scotland may well have incensed the Guises, but it is not true that three or four of the commissioners (among them the Earl of Cassillis) ‘died at Dieppe in one night on their homeward way, under strong suspicion of poison’ (cf. the epitaph by Buchanan ‘Occidit insidiis fallaci exceptus ab hoste’). For Reid, bishop of Orkney, died there on 6 Sept., Cassillis on 18 Nov. (having made his will four days before), and Rothes on 28 Nov.; while Fleming died in Paris ‘of the same distemper’ on 18 Dec. He was buried in the Collegiate Church of Maybole.

Cassillis married Margaret, daughter of Alexander Kennedy of Bargany, and by her had three sons, of whom the eldest, Gilbert, fourth earl of Cassillis [q. v.], is separately noticed, and two daughters.

[Historical Account of the Noble Family of Kennedy; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland. ed. Wood, i. 330; Historie of the Kennedyis, edited from a seventeenth-century manuscript by Robert Pitcairn, Edinb. 1830; Tytler's History, very full as to this earl's dealings with England; James Paterson's History of the County of Ayr, 1852, ii. 282; P. Hume Brown's George Buchanan, Edinb. 1890.]

F. H. G.