Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Vans, Patrick

VANS, Sir PATRICK, of Barnbarroch (d. 1597), lord of session and ambassador, was the second son of Sir John Vans of Barnbarroch by Janet, only child of Sir Samuel MacCulloch of Myreton, keeper of the palace of Linlithgow. He was educated for the church, and became rector of Wigton. In 1568 he succeeded to the family estates on the death of his elder brother, and on 1 Jan. 1576 he was appointed an ordinary lord of session on the spiritual side. On 21 Jan. 1587 he was admitted a member of the privy council (Reg. Privy Council, Scotl. iv. 162). In May of the same year he was sent, along with Peter Young, ambassador to Denmark, to arrange for a marriage between James VI and Anne, princess of Denmark (Moysie, Memoirs, p. 64; Sir James Melville, Memoirs, p. 363), and, having arrived home in August (Moysie, p. 65; Melville p. 364), he was on 1 Oct. exonerated for his proceedings in Denmark (Reg. Privy Council, Scotl. iv. 219). When the ships conveying the princess to Scotland in October 1589 were driven back by storm, and the king resolved to send a special embassy to fetch her, Vans was named one of the principal ambassadors for that purpose (ib. iv. 421), and, when the king resolved himself to embark, was especially chosen to accompany him (Calderwood, History, v. 67). After witnessing the marriage, he, on the king's resolving to remain in Denmark until the spring, returned to Scotland to report the marriage to the council, arriving in Scotland on 15 Dec. (Moysie, p. 81). In 1592 he was elected a lord of the articles, and in June of the same year received an annual pension of 200l. He was again chosen a lord of the articles on 16 July 1593, and at the same time was appointed to a commission for the provision of ministers and augmentation of stipends. He died on 22 July 1597, and was succeeded by his son, Sir John Vans, one of the gentlemen of the chamber to King James.

Though the name of Sir Patrick Vans has not by any ballad editor been associated with the old ballad of ‘Sir Patrick Spens,’ the supposition that he is the hero of it is at least as probable as any other theory as to the origin of the ballad [cf. art. Wardlaw, Lady Elizabeth].

[Calderwood's History of the Church of Scotland; Moysie's Memoirs and Sir James Melville's Memoirs (Bannatyne Club); Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vols. iii–v.; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice; Henderson's Scottish Vernacular Literature, pp. 353–6.]

T. F. H.