Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/King, James (1589?-1652?)
KING, JAMES, Lord Eythin (1589?–1652?), born about 1589, was son of James King of Barracht, Aberdeenshire. He entered the service of the king of Sweden, and by 1632 had risen to be ‘general-major.’ In 1638, while commanding in Munster under the Swedish general Baner, King received orders to join Rupert and the Prince Palatine, who had raised a small army. At the battle of Lemgo, near Minden, in which the Elector was routed by Hatzfeldt, the Austrian general, King has been unfairly charged with misconduct and treachery (Warburton, Prince Rupert, i. 452). It appears that Rupert was attacked before his army was collected, and defeated before King could bring up the foot to support the cavalry, and that finally King rallied, and skilfully conducted the retreat of the remainder of the troops. In January 1640 he was recalled to England (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1639–40, p. 367), and was graciously received by the king, who gave him a diamond ‘of good value’ and a pension of 1,000l. a year (ib. 1640, pp. 208, 450). In the following July he was despatched to Hamburg and Gluckstadt, apparently to bring over horse and foot to be employed against the covenanters (ib. 1640, pp. 492, 502). He did not return, but retired to Stockholm (ib. 1640–1, p. 320). On being again pressed to enter Charles's service he came as far as Hamburg, whence he wrote an outspoken letter to Secretary Vane requesting a recognised position in the army and the regular payment of his pension (ib. pp. 579–80). He was given a command under Lord Newcastle (Ellis, Original Letters, 1st ser. iii. 297). On 28 March 1643 he was created a peer of Scotland as Lord Eythin and Kerrey, the former title being probably derived from the river Ythan in Aberdeenshire. At the siege of Leeds in April of that year Eythin and all the old officers from Holland were of opinion that an assault was too dangerous, and in favour of raising the siege (Letters of Henrietta Maria, Camd. Soc., p. 189). According to Sir Philip Warwick (Memoirs, p. 264), he was the chief advocate of the policy of reducing Hull rather than marching south to join the king, and it was he who inspired Newcastle's defensive strategy during the campaign against the Scots, displaying a treacherous sympathy with his fellow-countrymen (ib. p. 277). So much did these accusations weigh with Eythin, that in April 1644 he seriously thought of retiring from the royal service, and returning to the continent. Both Charles and Henrietta pressed him to stay (Letters of Henrietta Maria, p. 238; Ellis, iii. 298). On 26 July 1644 the Scottish parliament passed a decreet of forfaulture against him, which was rescinded on 14 Jan. 1647, and on 19 Feb. following another act in his favour was passed (Douglas, Peerage of Scotland, ed. Wood, i. 558). During the siege of York even Warwick (Memoirs, p. 278) admits that he ‘showed eminency in soldiery’ and ‘no want of loyalty,’ for now he ‘fought not singly against his own nation.’ At Marston Moor he opposed Rupert's desire to engage, and disapproved of the plan of battle. Eythin subsequently accompanied Newcastle to Hamburg. His conduct was severely condemned (Clarendon, History, 1849, viii. 87), even, it seems, by Rupert, to whom Eythin wrote a letter in his defence (Pythouse Papers, p. 21). Eythin's last services in the royalist cause appear to have been performed in connection with the expedition of Montrose, under whom he was appointed lieutenant-general by warrant dated 19 March 1650. A letter of 13 March 1650 shows that he was also engaged in some negotiations for bringing Charles II to Sweden (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, pp. 52, 611). Eythin died, according to an authentic pedigree, at Stockholm 9 June 1652, being buried in the Reddarholms Church. He was married and had a daughter (ib. 1640, p. 443). Administration of his estate in Scotland was granted on 28 Oct. 1652 to Thomas Watson, a principal creditor (Administration Act Book, P. C. C. 1652, f. 186, where he is called Edward). A letter from Eythin to the Earl of Forth is in Patrick Ruthven's ‘Correspondence’ (Roxburghe Club, p. 81; cf. also p. xxxviii n.), and another from him to the Marquis of Hamilton, dated 12 Sept. 1638, in the Historical Manuscripts Commission's 11th Rep. (Appendix vi. p. 93).
[Duchess of Newcastle's Life of William, Duke of Newcastle (Firth), pp. 77, 370; notes kindly supplied by C. H. Firth, esq.; Memoirs of Sir J. Turner (Bannatyne Club), pp. 9, 11, 31; Letters of Henrietta Maria (Camd. Soc.), p. 149; Gardiner's Hist. of the Great Civil War (1642–9), i. 283, &c.]