Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lindsay, Walter

LINDSAY, Sir WALTER (d. 1605), of Balgavie, Forfarshire, catholic intriguer, was the third son of Sir David Lindsay of Edzell, afterwards ninth earl of Crawford, by his second wife, Catherine, daughter of Sir John Campbell of Lorn and Calder. He acquired the property of Balgavie 20 Feb. 1584. In 1580 he became a gentleman of the bedchamber to James VI, and also joined a voluntary band of young men who subscribed an obligation to serve the king in time of war at their own expense. Through the influence of Fathers Gordon and Crighton he, however, became soon afterwards a convert to catholicism, being, according to his own statement, the first whom they induced to recant and openly profess the old faith (‘Account of the Present State of the Catholic Religion’ in Forbes-Leith's Narratives of Scottish Catholics under Mary Stuart and James VI). From this time he kept an English jesuit in his house, and it became a rendezvous of the catholics. It was, he states, chiefly through his bold example that the Earls of Huntly, Erroll, and Angus were induced to make open confession of catholicism, and not improbably it was at his suggestion and in his castle that they entered into correspondence with Spain in reference to a descent on England. In 1589 he was imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh, but on 29 Nov. was conditionally released, Francis, earl of Bothwell, becoming caution in 1,000l. that he would on ten days' warning enter again into ward and remain there till his trial (Reg. P. C. Scotl. iv. 447). On 19 May, for failing to appear, he was denounced as a rebel (ib. p. 619), and on 11 Jan. 1592–3 he was charged, on pain of rebellion (ib. v. 37), to appear before the king and council to answer for practising in matters against the estate of religion, his highness's person and authority. He failed to appear, and in 1593 the king, during a progress in the north, demolished his castle (Sir James Balfour, Annals, i. 393). On 30 Sept. 1594 he was again denounced as a rebel, the special charges against him being intercommuning with conspirators against the true religion, and open avowing of papistry (Reg. P. C. Scotl. v. 172). In May 1594, the general assembly having recommended that he and others should be apprehended, the king expressed his willingness to do so if possible (Calderwood, v. 314). On receipt of a letter from the king by the presbytery of Edinburgh narrating his proceeding against the catholics, Davidson declared that ‘one deed, if it were but to execute Mr. Walter Lindsay for his idolatrie, would do more good than all his letters’ (ib. p. 337). Lindsay escaped the vengeance of the kirk by going abroad, and probably visited Spain. There he printed an ‘Account of the Present State of the Catholic Religion in the Realm of Scotland in the year of our Lord one thousand five hundred and ninety-four.’ A copy in Blair's College, Aberdeen, has been reprinted in appendix to Forbes-Leith's ‘Narratives.’ An incomplete version in the Cottonian MSS., entitled ‘Content of the Discourse made by Mr. Walter Lindsay of Balgavies, put in Spanish and in Print,’ bears the erroneous date 1586; this was reprinted by Lord Lindsay in his ‘Lives of the Lindsays’ (vol. i. App.), and the mistake in date led Lord Lindsay to suppose that Sir Walter in 1586 undertook a mission to Spain.

Having returned to Scotland towards the close of 1598, Lindsay was again denounced (Reg. P. C. Scotl. v. 514). Whereupon he agreed to enter into a conference with the ministers of the kirk, and to remain within the bounds of the presbytery of Brechin till he had satisfied the kirk regarding his religion (ib. p. 541). On 24 May 1599, Alexander, lord Spynie, became caution for him in five thousand merks to satisfy the kirk within forty days of his return to Scotland or else to depart again abroad (ib. p. 719), and as he continued to reside in Scotland, the presumption is that he made his peace with the kirk. From the numerous subsequent entries in the ‘Register of the Privy Council,’ he seems to have taken a prominent part in all the feuds of the Lindsays, and to have led a rather turbulent life. On 25 Oct. 1605 he was barbarously murdered by his kinsman, David, twelfth earl of Crawford [q. v.], between Brechin and the Place of Edzell (for particulars see ib. vii. 143–4). By his wife Margaret Campbell, sister of David Campbell of Kethnott, he had a son, David, who succeeded him, and a daughter, Margaret, married to Adam Menzies of Boltoquhan.

[Register P. C. Scotl. iv. 7; Forbes-Leith's Narratives of the Scottish Catholics under Mary Stuart and James VI; Lord Lindsay's Lives of the Lindsays; Jervise's Lands of the Lindsays; Lindsay Pedigree, by W. A. Lindsay, in the College of Arms.]

T. F. H.