Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/28

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


tutor William Rind, a native of Perth, and his studies in Edinburgh were specially directed by Robert Rollock [q. v.], principal of the university, with whom he was afterwards on terms of special friendship. In 1592 he was elected provost of Perth, and the same year had a ratification to him by parliament of the earldom of Gowrie and abbacy of Scone (Acta Parl. Scot. iii. 591). But though restored to his dignities, his sympathies, if not directly hostile to the king, were with the extreme protestant party. It was by the connivance of the young earl's mother, Lady Gowrie, and his brother-in-law, the Earl of Atholl, that the unruly Earl of Bothwell [see Hepburn, Francis Stewart, fifth Earl] succeeded on 24 July 1593 in gaining admission to Holyrood Palace, where he had the strange interview with the king. In October of the same year Gowrie himself attended an armed convention summoned to meet the Earl of Atholl at the castle of Doune, Perthshire; but on the approach of the king with a large force, Atholl fled, and Gowrie and Montrose, having awaited the coming of the king, made their peace with him (David Moysie, Memoirs, p. 105). On the 8th of the same month Atholl informed Elizabeth that whatever Bothwell should conclude with her, he (Atholl), Gowrie, Montrose, and others would hold unto with the utmost of their power (Cal. State Papers, Scot. Ser. p. 636).

On 16 Aug. 1594 Gowrie gave notice to the town council of Perth of his intention to go to the continent to prosecute his studies, whereupon they agreed to elect him annually as their provost during his absence. Along with his tutor, William Rind, he proceeded to Padua, where he so greatly distinguished himself that, according to Calderwood, he was elected rector of the university during the last year of his stay there (History, vi. 67). The studies to which he particularly devoted himself were the natural sciences, especially chemistry. From Padua Gowrie, on 24 Nov. 1595, addressed a letter to King James, in which he expressed the prayerful hope that God would bless his majesty ‘with all felicity and satisfaction in health, with an increase of many prosperous days’ (Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, ii. 330). Gowrie concluded his education by a continental tour, and, after visiting Rome and Venice, arrived about the close of 1599 at Geneva on his way back to Scotland. At Geneva he stayed for about three months in the house of Theodore Beza, the successor of Calvin, to whom he had an introduction from Principal Rollock, and who, according to Calderwood, conceived for him, from his intercourse with him, such an affection ‘that he never heard nor made mention of his death but with tears’ (History, vi. 67). From Geneva Gowrie proceeded to Paris, where he was well received at the French court; he there made the acquaintance of the English ambassador, Sir Henry Neville, who ‘found him to be exceedingly well affected to the cause of religion, devoted to Elizabeth's service, and, in short, a nobleman of whom, for his good judgment, zeal, and ability, exceeding good use could be made on his return’ (Neville to Cecil, 27 Feb. 1599–1600, in Winwood's Memorials, i. 156). On arriving in London on 3 April 1600, Gowrie was consequently warmly welcomed by Elizabeth, with whom, and with Cecil, he had frequent conferences. The statement that he made a prolonged stay at the English court cannot, however, be admitted. On his return to Scotland, although he spent some time in attendance on the king at Holyrood, he reached Perth by 20 May. Nor can any faith be placed in the anonymous manuscript which states that Elizabeth ordered that ‘all honours should be paid to him that were due to a prince of Wales, and to her first cousin’ (quoted in Scott's Life and Death of the Earl of Gowrie, p. 118).

On his arrival at Edinburgh Gowrie was met by a large cavalcade of his friends, who had come to welcome him back to Scotland; and when the king heard of this half-triumphal entry into the city, he is said to have given vent to his chagrin in the sarcasm that ‘there were more with his father when he was convoyed to the scaffold’ (Calderwood, History, vi. 71). Other anecdotes have been related to show that the king was more or less ill-disposed towards him. A more tangible motive for mutual discontent is to be found in the fact that the king was Gowrie's debtor to the extent of no less than 80,000l., representing a sum of 48,036l. due to his father while treasurer, with the interest at 10 per cent. per annum for the succeeding years. With this sum the old Earl of Gowrie, when treasurer, was forced to burden himself in order to meet the current expenses of the government. It was probably his inability to meet the obligations incurred by his father that had compelled the young earl to remain abroad; and on his return he presented a petition to the court of session, stating that he was unfit to pay any more to his creditors than he had done already, and asking to be relieved of these royal debts. In answer to his application he on 20 June 1600 obtained a protection from debt for a year, ‘that in the meantime his