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OGILVY, JOHN (fl. 1592–1601), political adventurer, commonly called Powrie-Ogilvy, was descended from Sir Patrick Ogilvy, whose son Alexander, in the time of the Bruce, obtained the lands of Ogilvy and Easter Powrie. John was served heir of his father Gilbert in the lands and barony of Easter Powrie on 27 Aug. 1601 (Warden, Angus or Forfarshire, Dundee, 1886, v. 23). His sister Anne married Sir Thomas Erskine of Gogar, who was in 1619 created Earl of Kellie.

Ogilvy came into notice as a young man. In 1592 he was selected, apparently by James VI, to be the bearer to foreign countries of a secret despatch, in which the Scottish king discussed the advantages and disadvantages of a combined attack with Philip II upon England in the summer of that year. Ogilvy was, however, prevented from going abroad at the time, and the despatch was subsequently found upon George Kerr on the discovery of the Spanish blanks in December 1593 (Hist. MSS. Comm. Hatfield MSS. iv. 214; Scottish Review, July 1893, art. 'Spanish Blanks,' p. 23).

In the following year Ogilvy, 'apparent of Poury,' together with John Ogilvy of Craig and Sir Walter Lindsay [q. v.], was proclaimed a traitor and 'trafficking papist' (Reg. Privy Council, v. 172). He is next heard of in Flanders in 1595, when, professing to be an accredited agent of James, he entered into negotiations with the Scottish or anti-Spanish faction among the catholic exiles, 'and at the same time offered his services on behalf of King Philip to Stephen d'Ibarra, the Spanish secretary-at-war. From Flanders he went to Rome, and there presented to the pope, in the name of James VI, a petition to which the king's seal was attached. In this document — 'Petitiones quædam Sermi Regis Scotorum quas a Sanctmo Patre Clemente Papa perimpleri exoptat' (State Papers, Scotl. lviii. 83) — James promised submission to the church of Rome, prayed for papal confirmation of his right to the English throne, and for money in aid of his military enterprises. Ogilvy supported the petition by a paper of 'Considerations' drawn up by himself to show the good disposition of the king towards catholics (ib. lviii. 84). Meanwhile he aroused the suspicions of the Duke of Sesa, the Spanish ambassador, with whom he intrigued in secret, and by Sesa's persuasion he went from Rome into Spain, accompanied by Dr. John Cecil, an English priest, who was then attached to the Spanish faction, and did not believe in the alleged catholic proclivities of James, or in the genuineness of Ogilvy's credentials.

Arriving in Toledo in May 1596, Ogilvy exhibited a letter of credit from the king of Scotland, and a memorial in which James proposed an offensive and defensive alliance with Spain, and, as security for his own fulfilment of the terms of this treaty, offered to deliver his son, Prince Henry, into the hands of Philip. Cecil presented a counter memorial; and this, together with the disclosure by d'Ibarra of Ogilvy's double dealings in Flanders, led to his imprisonment in Barcelona pending the confirmation of his commission by the king of Scotland. This confirmation does not appear to have been sent, while James denied to Queen Elizabeth that he had given Ogilvy any such commission. Ogilvy was still in prison in August 1598 when Erskine, his brother-in-law, arrived in Spain to intercede for him. He was back in Scotland in December 1600, and, under the alias of John Gibson, was in the pay of the English secretary. Sir Robert Cecil. He was shortly afterwards in custody at Edinburgh, and in danger of his life as a traitor; but in March he effected his escape, and, after writing to James a letter in which he denied having ever made use of the king's commission in either Flanders, Italy, or Spain, he seems to have slipped abroad, and is heard of no more.

[Summary of the Memorials that John Ogilvy, Scottish baron, sent by the king of Scotland, gave to his catholic majesty, in favour of a League between the two kings; and what John Cecill, priest, an Englishman, on the part of the Earls and other Catholic lords of Scotland, set forth to the contrary, in the city of Toledo, in the months of May and June 1596; printed, among Documents illustrating Catholic Policy (in the Miscellany, vol. xv. of the Publications of the Scottish History Society), by T. G. Law; Bibl. Birch. Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 4120; State Papers, Scotl. lix. 6; Cal. State Papers, Scotl. ii. 604. 791–5, 799.]

T. G. L.