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Lindsay, Alexander (d.1607) (DNB00)


LINDSAY, ALEXANDER, first Lord Spynie (d. 1607), was the fourth son of David, tenth earl of Crawford, by his wife Margaret Beaton, daughter of the cardinal, and was brother of David, eleventh earl of Crawford [q. v.] At an early age he became one of James VI's favourites, and was chosen his vice-chamberlain. According to Moysie, ‘being ane great courtier,’ he on 2 Nov. 1588 ‘tuik the gift of the king's guard over the Master of Glamis' head’ (Memoirs, p. 71). In October of the following year he accompanied the king when he went to Denmark to bring home his bride. Towards the expenses of the expedition he lent a thousand crowns to the king, who promised on his return ‘to make him a lord.’ On 6 May 1590, therefore, he received a charter of Spynie and other lands belonging to the see of Moray, which were erected into the free barony of Spynie, together with the title of Baron Spynie, which was conferred on him and his heirs and assignees, the creation being confirmed on 4 Nov. following (ib. p. 85). The king also used his special influence (see several curious letters by him in Lord Lindsay's Lives of the Lindsays) to induce Dame Jean Lyon, daughter of Lord Glamis, and widow first of Sir Robert Douglas, and secondly of Archibald, earl of Angus, to agree to give Lord Spynie her hand in marriage. The royal mediation was ultimately successful, and Lord Spynie, after the marriage, took up his residence at Aberdour, where he lived in great splendour (Row, History of the Kirk, p. 170).

Lord Spynie was one of the new members of the privy council, chosen after the reconstitution of the council in June 1592. On 15 Aug. following he was accused by Colonel Stewart of having resetted [i.e. harboured] the turbulent Earl of Bothwell [see Hepburn, Francis Stewart, fifth Earl]. Spynie offered to fight the accuser, but this the king would not permit, and after a day had been appointed for the trial, Stewart was committed to Edinburgh (Calderwood, v. 174) or Blackness Castle (Moysie, p. 96), and Spynie to Stirling Castle (ib.) At the trial the accuser failed to proceed to probation; and when after postponement he again declined to proceed, Spynie was set at liberty. Stewart's accusation had, however, so disturbed the king—who was always in mortal dread of being betrayed to Bothwell—that Spynie never regained his entire confidence. When, on 24 July of the following year, Bothwell made his appearance before the king at Holyrood Palace, Spynie was one of those who interceded for him (Calderwood, v. 256; Moysie, p. 103). On 27 Dec. 1593–4 he was denounced for not appearing to answer charges touching ‘certain treasonable practices and correspondence’ (Reg. P. C. Scotl. v. 114); and on 24 Feb. following proclamation was made against holding intercourse with him and ‘other adherents of Bothwell’ (ib. p. 132). Not long after he made his peace with the king, and on 27 Nov. 1595 was present at a meeting of the privy council (ib. p. 234), but their relations were never again quite cordial. On 18 Nov. 1599 he had to promise the council to present Sir Walter Lindsay of Balgavie [q. v.], a papal emissary, before the presbytery of Edinburgh, and was ordered to reside where they directed him until he satisfied them in reference to his religion (ib. vi. 33). In 1600 ‘ane greit trouble’ fell out between Lord Spynie and the Ogilvies which, though the council did its utmost to settle it, ultimately resulted on 30 Jan. 1602–3 in a night attack by the Master of Ogilvie and his brother on the house of Lord Spynie at Kinblethmont. After blowing up the principal gate with a petard, the assailants searched the house for Lord Spynie and his wife to ‘murder them.’ Finding they had escaped, the Ogilvies spoiled the mansion of its furniture and plate (ib. pp. 519–20). On the revival of the ancient bishopric of Moray in 1605, Spynie, at the request of the king, resigned the temporalities, but the patronage of the living was reserved to the family. While, on 5 June 1607, at the foot of the stair of his lodgings in the High Street of Edinburgh, ‘recreating himself after his supper,’ Spynie was witness to an encounter between his kinsmen, the Master of Crawford, and the younger Lindsay of Edzell. He endeavoured to interpose to prevent bloodshed and was slain by the young laird of Edzell by ‘a pitiful mistake.’ The incident, with much distortion of fact, is narrated in the old ballad of ‘Lord Spynie.’ According to Spotiswood, Spynie's death ‘was much regretted for the good parts he had, and the hope his friends conceived that he should have raised again that noble and ancient house of Crawford to the former splendour and dignity’ (History, Spotiswood Society, 3rd edit. p. 191).

By his wife, Jean Lyon, Spynie had two sons—Alexander Lindsay, second lord [q. v.], and John, who died young—and two daughters: Anne, married to Sir Robert Graham of Invermay, and Margaret, to John Erskine of Dun.

[Moysie's Memoirs (Bannatyne Club); Histories of Calderwood, Spotiswood, and Row; Reg. P. C. Scotl. vols. v–vi; Pitcairn's Criminal Trials of Scotland, vol. i.; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 517–18; 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.