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Hamilton, James (1530-1609) (DNB00)


HAMILTON, JAMES, third Earl of Arran (1530–1609), was the eldest son of James, second earl of Arran and duke of Chatelherault [q. v.], by his wife Lady Margaret, eldest daughter of James Douglas, third earl of Morton. While negotiations were in progress in May 1543 for the arrangement of a marriage between the Princess Mary and Edward, prince of Wales, Henry VIII made a supplementary proposal to the second earl of Arran, then governor of Scotland, for a marriage between his eldest son and the Princess Elizabeth of England. Arran appointed the Earl of Glencairn and Sir George Douglas to thank King Henry for his proposal, and himself wrote to Henry that he had given them full powers to 'perfect the said contract' (Cal. State Papers, Scott. Ser. i. 43). Through the influence of Cardinal Beaton, he, however, soon entirely changed his policy, and on 7 July refused to confirm the treaty which had been concluded by the commissioners. The son was presumptive heir to the Scottish throne, and even a marriage with a princess of England would not compensate him for the marriage of the Princess Mary to another suitor than himself. When the son was in 1546 detained in the castle of St. Andrews as a hostage by the murderers of Cardinal Beaton, Henry promised them assistance provided they 'should keeape the governor's son, my Lord of Errane, and stuid freindlie to the contract of marriage' (Knox, i. 183). In view of the possibility of his falling into the hands of the English, the estates passed an act debarring him from all right of succession to the family estates and to the crown while he remained in captivity (Acta Parl. Scot. i. 474). He was released on the surrender of the castle to the French in the following year. His father, after the failure of the marriage treaty with England, had obtained a bond from some of the principal noblemen of Scotland obliging themselves to support a marriage with the Princess Mary, but he nevertheless did not venture to oppose the betrothal in 1548 of Mary to the dauphin of France.

Hamilton shortly after left for France, and in 1550 was appointed to the command of the Scots guards in France (list in Forbes-Leith's Scotsmen at Arms in France, i. 189-190). After his father was in 1553 created Duke of Chatelherault the son was usually styled the Earl of Arran. In 1557 he marched with Admiral Coligny to La Fere in Picardy, and with his regiment distinguished himself in the defence of St. Quentin (ib. p. 99). In France he kept up an acquaintance with Mary Stuart In May 1557 she wrote to the queen-dowager, asking her consent to a marriage between him and Mademoiselle de Bouillon, and proposing that on the marriage he be created Duke of Arran (Lettres de Marie Stuart, Labanoff, i. 43). The date of Arran's conversion to protestantism is uncertain. The story that he had with him in France a protestant chaplain, who in 1559 openly preached the reformed doctrines, first in Scotch and afterwards in French (Hubert Languet to Ulric Mordesius, quoted in Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1559-60, entry 45), and that on this account the Guises resolved to have his life, is termed by Hill Burton a 'romantic fable' (Hist. Scotl. iii. 358) ; but in all its main features it is amply corroborated. The French king himself, in a letter to M. de Noailles, states that as the zeal of Arran for the new doctrines had caused great scandal, Arran's arrest had been ordered, but timely information enabled him to escape (Teulet, i. 320). Arran was in communication with Throckmorton, the English ambassador at Paris, and probably by his advice he went to Geneva. On learning from Throckmorton whither he had gone, Cecil sent Killigrew to bring him through Germany to Emden, and thence by ship to England. In this Cecil seems to have been acting on the advice of Knox, who desired that the Earl of Arran should be sent for into England, where he might be secretly detained until Elizabeth's advisers might 'consider what was in him,' and whether he or Lord James Stuart (afterwards Earl of Moray) were the more suitable person to supersede the queen-dowager in the regency (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1558-9, entry 1119). The supposed presence of Arran in England caused much uneasiness in France and Spain. Elizabeth was suspected of intending him to be ' more than a guest' (De Quadra to Philip II, quoted by Froude, History, cab. ed. vi. 216). Arran arrived at Cecil's house at Westminster on 28 Aug. (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1558-9, entry 1274). Elizabeth had an interview with him there, and again at Hampton Court.

Before Arran's arrival in England Sadleir had advised that as soon as possible he should be sent to Scotland, that he might overcome the hesitation of the Duke of Chatelherault in supporting the reformed party (Sadler, State Papers, i. 400). Arran's presence in England was not recognised, though generally known. A pass to Scotland was now made out for him under a feigned name (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. entry 1293). He set out on 8 Sept., and was present at the convention held at Stirling on the llth (Knox, i. 413). His protestant zeal for a time neutralised the weak resolution of his father, who, under his advice, became reconciled to some of the lords of the congregation, and also signed the letter to the queen-regent depriving her of the regency. Encouraged by the arrival of Arran and the presence of Randolph, the English ambassador, the congregation on 15 Oct. entered Edinburgh with a force of fifteen thousand, whereupon the queen-regent retired within the fortifications of Leith. Elizabeth was persuaded by Cecil to send 4,000l. for the support of the Scottish confederates. The Earl of Bothwell [see Hepburn, James, fourth Earl of Bothwell, 1536-1578] waylaid the messenger and took the money. Arran and Lord James Stuart made an unsuccessful attempt to capture Bothwell at Crichton Castle, his principal residence (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1559-60, entry 183), and had to content themselves with placing fifty gunners in it (ib.) On 6 Nov. Arran and Stuart marched out of Edinburgh to protect a convoy of provisions from a sally of the French from Leith, but becoming entangled in the marshes between Restalrig and Holyrood, had to retire into the city with heavy loss. This and previous disasters, coupled with the neutrality of Lord Erskine, governor of the castle, discouraged the protestants. In spite of Arran's remonstrances the whole force hastily fell back on Stirling. Although a sermon by Knox on Wednesday the 8th helped to revive their drooping spirits, they determined, till succour should arrive from Elizabeth, to act strictly on the defensive. While one division of the forces was sent to protect Glasgow and the rest of Scotland, Arran and Stuart went to St. Andrews to prepare resistance against a threatened attack on Fife (Knox, ii. 5). On 9 Nov. Bothwell had sent Arran a cartel of defiance (Sadleir, State Papers, i. 565), and after the queen-regent took possession of Edinburgh he proclaimed him a traitor at the sound of the trumpet (Knox, ii. 3). Learning in the beginning of January that the French had left Stirling, and were marching towards Fife, Arran and Stuart assembled their forces at Cupar, and sent their men-of-war round to Kinghorn (ib. p. 5). At Cupar Knox preached a sermon partly directed at Arran, 'because he keipit himself more close and solitary than many men would have wished' (ib. p. 9). After the sermon Arran and Stuart set out for Dysart with a force of about six hundred men. There for twenty-one days they kept the French at bay, although from their inferiority in numbers none of them dared to risk undressing during all that time, and they were frequently kept skirmishing from morning till night (ib. p. 9). Disheartened by such a vigorous resistance, the French resolved to march round the sea-coast to St. Andrews, their ships with provisions being kept within sight ; but their enterprise received a sudden check by the arrival in the Firth of Forth of the English fleet. The persistency of Arran and Stuart thus saved Fife ; for the French now with great precipitation retreated by Kinghorn to Stirling, whence with the utmost haste they returned to Leith (ib. pp. 13-15). Arran was present at the siege of that town, and on 10 May signed in the camp the confirmation of the treaty of Berwick, his name standing next to that of his father. He also signed 'the last band at Leith' for the ' liberty of the evangel' (ib. p. 63), and he subscribed the first 'Book of Discipline' (ib. p. 129). On account of Lord Semple having laid wait for Arran ' as he was riding with his accustomed company' (ib. p. 131), he and his father set out on 24 Sept. to besiege Castle Semple in Renfrewshire, which they captured on 14 Oct. (Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 63). Subsequently he was one of those appointed to go to the west for the 'destruction of the monuments of idolatry,' that is, the demolition of the religious houses (Knox, p. 167).

According to the articles forming part of the convention or treaty of peace signed at Edinburgh on 6 July 1560, Arran and his father were to be reinstated in their French estates (articles in Knox, ii. 73-82, and Keith, i. 298-306). The death of the queen-regent, on 10 June, made the lords of the congregation anxious for the marriage of Arran to Elizabeth, in which case they would 'cause the French queen to renounce for ever her title to Scotland' (Throckmorton to the queen, 4 May, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1560-1, entry 27). The conclusion of the treaty with France did not in the least modify their intentions. Apparently to prepare Elizabeth for the proposal, Arran on 18 July wrote her a rather tardy letter of thanks and personal admiration (ib. entry 341). By a resolution of the parliament held in August (Acta Parl Scot. ii. 605-6) the Earls of Morton and Glencairn and Maitland of Lethington started for England on 11 Oct. to press Arran's suit (Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 62). Maitland, and probably Morton, were reluctant ; the nobles generally disliked the proposal ; and Arran was lukewarm, though on 28 Sept. he wrote to Cecil affirming that his life depended on the success of the mission (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. entry 566). The Scottish estates had intimated their intentions to the court of France (letter in TETJLET, ii. 150-2). Mary and her husband had little fear of the success of the mission, but hoped to turn its failure to account, and were even prepared to offer Arran an alliance with one of their own house, and to make him the delegate of Queen Mary in Scotland. Elizabeth was complimentary, but 'indisposed to marry at present' (queen of England to the Scottish ambassadors, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1560, entry 786). With this disappointing news the ambassadors arrived in Edinburgh on 3 Jan. 1561 (Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 63).

The king of France had died on 6 Dec. 1560, and, as Maitland saw, the Queen of Scots now became the inevitable object of the nation's attachment (letter to Cecil, January 1560-1). By the Hamiltons the marriage with Mary had also always been regarded as the preferable match, and there is reason to believe that Arran himself had formed a strong attachment to Mary. His interest in the mission of the ambassadors to England instantly ceased. He made a confidant of Knox, who deemed it of the highest importance that Mary should marry a protestant, and advised Arran at once to renew his suit. The king of Navarre and the Constable Montmorency were supposed to favour the suit of Arran, while the Guises were for a marriage with the king of Spain (Throckmorton to the privy council, 10 Jan. Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1560-1, entry 871). Mary, though she made use of kind words, was understood to bear Arran little affection, and before her arrival in Scotland the suit had been practically refused. Arran was however, one of the first to meet her on her disembarkation at Leith, and he was named a member of her privy council. Nevertheless, he strongly opposed the celebration of ;he mass in the queen's chapel, and when lie privy council made a proclamation for the protection of the servants brought by the queen from France from molestation or derision on account of their religion, protested in the presence of the herald (Knox, ii. 274). He absented himself when the queen made her public entry into Edinburgh (Randolph to Cecil, 1 Sept. 1561, in Keith, ii. 82), and afterwards announced his purpose 'not to be at court so long as the mass remained' (Randolph to Cecil, 24 Oct., ib. p. 99). Later events prove that the peculiarities of Arran's conduct were due to mental aberration. As early as April 1560 he had to leave the camp at Leith on account of an illness which was stated to be mental rather than physical. In February 1561-2, during the festivities at the marriage of Lord James Stuart, he fell sick, 'some said as much for misliking as any other cause' (Randolph to Cecil, 12 Feb., Cal. State Papers, For. Ser.1561-2, entry 883) ; and on the 20th Randolph informs Cecil that he is so 'drowned in dreams or beset with fantasies' as to give cause for anxiety (ib. entry 911).

Arran was still at feud with Bothwell. A drunken frolic, in which Bothwell committed outrages in pursuit of a woman supposed to be the mistress of Arran, did not improve matters (Knox, ii. 315). Shortly afterwards Bothwell asked Knox to mediate between him and Arran (ib. ii. 323). They had a friendly meeting in the presence of Knox and others, when their differences were adjusted to their mutual satisfaction, and the next day Bothwell, 'with some of his honest friends, came to the sermoun with the Erie foirsaid' (ib. p. 326). On the Thursday following (26 March) they dined together, and on the Friday Arran, accompanied by two friends, sought an interview with Knox to whom he stated that Bothwell had advised him to carry off the queen to his stronghold in Dumbarton, to compel her to marry him and to murder Lord James Stuart, Maitland of Lethington, and others that 'now misguide her.' Arran professed to be greatly shocked, and proposed to lay the matter before the queen and her brother. This he persisted in doing, although Knox, who discerned in his manner evident signs of insanity, strongly advised him against it. Possibly the story of Arran would have been at once dismissed as an insane delusion had not the queen been already suspicious of him. There had been rumours in the previous November of an attempt of a similar kind by Arran (Randolph to Cecil, 7 Dec., in Keith, ii. 115, also Knox, ii. 293). Bothwell's previous character and subsequent history harmonise with this supposed conduct. Arran, on informing his father of the matter, is stated to have been treated with great severity. He was forcibly confined to his room, but 'escaped out of his chamber with cords made out of the sheets of his bed' (Randolph to Cecil, 31 March, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1561-2, entry 971), and, attired only in his doublet and hose, arrived late at night at the house of the laird of Grange (ib. 993). He was subsequently summoned to St. Andrews, where he and Both well were brought before the council. Arran persisted in his accusation. Bothwell was confined in the castle, and Arran was sent to the house of the Earl of Mar (Lord James Stuart). Both were subsequently transferred to the castle of Edinburgh, from which Bothwell made his escape on 23 Oct. Shortly after Arran's removal to Edinburgh he was visited by Mar, Morton, and others, who reported that his wits then served him ;as well as ever they did (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1562, entry 145), but he afterwards had repeated relapses (see various letters by Randolph, and also some by Arran, ib., from 1562 to 1566). Though Mary paid Arran a friendly visit in prison, and though his father, the Duke of Chatelherault, made strenuous efforts for his release, he did not obtain his liberty till 2 May 1566, shortly after Bothwell had come forward as the protector of Mary against the murderers of Eizzio. Before obtaining it he had to find caution in 12,000l. Scots to appear when called for (ib. 1566-8, entry 342 ; Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 453). He was then weak and sickly, and had lost his speech above four months. At a meeting of the estates, held in August 1568, he was arraigned with the other members of his family, but in January following they made terms with Moray.

After this Arran lived in retirement with his mother at Craignethan Castle. On the death of his father, in 1575, he came into nominal possession of his estates, which were, however, administered by his second brother, John, first marquis of Hamilton (1532-1604) [q. v.] In 1579, when the prosecution of the Hamiltons was renewed, the king, at the professed instance of Arran, initiated a process against Lord John Hamilton and his two brothers for detaining Arran wrongously in confinement, the ground of the accusation being that Arran was 'compos mentis, and not an idiot,' and that whether he were or not, a tutor, curator, or administrator ought to be appointed (ib. iii. 160-1). The proceedings seem, however, to have been merely a device of the government to obtain a firmer hold on the Hamilton estates. Craignethan Castle, in which he was confined, was besieged with the avowed purpose of delivering him from those who detained him unlawfully. After its surrender he was brought, along with his mother, to Linlithgow, where he was placed in the charge of Captain Lambie, a dependent of Morton (Hist. James the Sext, p. 176). On the apprehension of Morton in 1580, Captain James Stewart, himself shortly afterwards created Earl of Arran, was appointed his tutor (ib. p. 230). The estates were restored to the family on the downfall of Stewart in 1585. Arran survived, without regaining his reason, till March 1609.

[Cal. State Papers, For. Ser., Keign of Elizabeth ; Reg. Privy Council Scotl. vols. i-iii. ; Lettres de Marie Stuart, ed. Labanoff ; Teulet's Relations politiques de la France et de 1'Espagne avec 1'Ecosse ; Knox's Works, ed. Laing ; Sadleir's State Papers; Histories of Calderwood, Spotiswood, Buchanan, and Lesley ; Diurnal of Occurrents ; Hamilton Papers in Maitland Club Miscellany, iv.; Hist. MSS. Comm. llth Rep. Appendix, pt. iv. ; Tytler and Hill Burton's Histories of Scotland ; Froude's History of England ; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 698-9.]

T. F. H.