Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kennedy, Gilbert (1541?-1576)

KENNEDY, GILBERT, fourth Earl of Cassillis (1541?–1576), eldest son of Gilbert, third earl [q. v.], was still a minor when, in November 1558, he succeeded his father. He seems to have been with him in France, for on 10 Feb. 1559 he was appointed a gentleman of the bedchamber, in place of his father, to Henry II. On 27 Dec. 1560 he was condemned by the general assembly as ‘an idolator and maintainer’ of idolatry. In 1562 he was served heir to his father and sworn a privy councillor. Towards the close of 1565 he went openly to hear mass in the queen's chapel; but in 1566 he married Margaret Lyon, only daughter of John, seventh lord Glamis, and ‘by her persuasion he became a protestant, and caused to reform his churches in Carrick, and promised to maintain the doctrine of the Evangel’ (Knox, Works, ed. Laing, ii. 533). In 1567 he was with Queen Mary at her last parting from Darnley; he sat on the mock assize that acquitted Bothwell; he signed the bond in his favour at Ainslie's supper; but early in May he was one of the nobles who convened against him at Stirling. He fought well for Queen Mary at Langside (13 May 1568), and there are extant ten letters written to him by Mary from England between 20 May 1568 and 6 May 1571. But in 1569, soon after an ineffectual meeting at Glasgow on 13 March between Moray and Cassillis with others of the Hamilton faction, the latter went to Stirling to visit the young king, and was magnificently entertained by the regent.

The king of Carrick, as the earl was widely called, was ‘ane particular man, and ane werry greedy man, and cared not how he got land, so that he could come by the same.’ He had been scheming for a few of the abbey lands of Glenluce when the abbot died. ‘And then he dealt with ane monk of the same abbacy, who could counterfeit the abbot's handwriting, and all the whole convent's; and made him counterfeit their subscriptions. And when he had got the same done, fearing that the monk would reveal it, he caused a carl, whom they called Carnachaine, to stick him, and then, for fear that carl had revealed, he made his father's brother, Hugh of Barquhany, accuse this carl for theft, and hang him in Crosraguel’ (Historie of the Kennedyis, p. 9). The earl's cruel usage of the abbot of Crosraguel is described in detail by Richard Bannatyne, Knox's secretary, whose version is quoted by Scott in his notes to ‘Ivanhoe.’ It appears that after the death in 1564 of his uncle, Abbot Quintin Kennedy [q. v.], the earl had seized on Crosraguel, of which on 10 Feb. 1566 he received from Mary and Darnley a nineteen years' lease, free of rent. But in this concession three other persons were interested—Allan Stewart, the ‘commendator;’ George Buchanan, pensioner of Crosraguel; and the Laird of Cardonald, surety to his brother, the commendator. To force the first of these to sign four documents renouncing his rights, the earl on 29 Aug. 1570 enticed him to his castle of Dunure, and in the ‘black vault’ there on 1 Sept., and again on the 7th, ‘set his bare legs to a great fire and extremely burnt him, that he was ever thereafter unable of his legs.’ Stewart's own complaint to the privy council (1571) substantially agrees with this account. A kinsman of Cassillis's, Kennedy of Bargany, finally rescued the unfortunate commendator, and carried him off to Ayr. Bargany kept possession of the earl's castle of Dunure till the spring of 1571. The council directed the earl meanwhile to find security in 2,000l. to leave the commendator in peace, and in 1571 the regent Lennox came to Ayr, declaring he would destroy Cassillis and his whole bounds unless he fulfilled the council's orders. Thereupon the earl was imprisoned for non-compliance at Dumbarton. But on 12 Aug. he formed an agreement with Morton, obtaining a remission for past rebellion and consenting to serve king and regent. He was present at the Stirling parliament in September, when Lennox was slain, and on the 7th was chosen a privy councillor. He died at Edinburgh on 11 Dec. 1576 from the effects of a fall from his horse. His eldest son, John, fifth earl of Cassillis [q. v.], is separately noticed. His widow afterwards married John, first marquis of Hamilton.

[Historical Account of the Noble Family of Kennedy; Historie of the Kennedyis; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, ed. Wood, i. 332; and, especially, Charters of the Abbey of Crosraguel, edited by F. C. Hunter Blair (Ayrshire and Galloway Arch. Assoc.), 2 vols. Edinb. 1886.]

F. H. G.