In order to understand the reason why Lauchope House was destroyed, it is necessary to look at the political situation of Scotland at the time.(2.6)

Mary, Queen of Scots
~ Source unknown.

  Upon the death of King James IV at the Battle of Flodden Field, his infant son, James V inherited the throne of Scotland. In 1528 James V dispensed with the regents who had governed the nation, and began ruling on his own. He married a French woman, Mary of Guise and they gave birth to a daughter, Mary Stuart.

  Mary Stuart would grow up to be a very beautiful woman. She was said to be unusually fair complexioned, while her English cousin, Elizabeth had to use a concoction of egg, borax, alum and poppy seed to approximate a light complexion. Mary had the Stewart’s distinctive reddish hair. Her eyes were hazel. She was tall, but not ungracefully, and she enjoyed athletic pursuits.

  In 1542, King James V invaded England, but was defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss. He died a few weeks later, and his daughter, only a week old inherited the throne. James Hamilton, the Earl of Arran, and the heir presumptive, was named regent for the child; he was then confirmed by Parliament as the land’s Governor. His power was placed in check, though, by the strong will of Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise, and his own cousin, Mathew Stuart, Earl of Lennox. Mary of Guise persuaded Arran to hand over the regency to her in 1554.

  The child, Mary was taken to France in August, 1548, and raised by her French mother’s family until she was in her teens. She was therefore brought up in the Catholic faith. In 1558 Mary, at the age of fifteen, married the French Dauphin, Francis, a move thought to be calculated to eventually make Scotland a French colony. Mary became Queen of France the following year when, upon the death of her husband’s father, King Henry II, Francis inherited the throne of France as Francois II. Francois died the following year,1560, or a septic ear, and so in August of 1561 Mary decided to return to Scotland.

  The homeland was not as welcome a place for Mary in 1561 as when she had left it. In 1559 her mother’s power had been damaged by a conflict, which erupted into bloodshed, between the French Queen Mother and the Lords of the Congregation. The Lords, being primarily Protestant, overthrew the regent and moved in force into Edinburgh. French troops arrived and fortified Leith. In July, 1559 when Henry II died, Francis not only was proclaimed King of France, but also of Scotland. The Scottish royal arms were immediately added to those of France. The conflict came to nothing and everything fell apart for the French alliance when Mary of Guise unexpectedly died of dropsy in August, 1560. What became known as the Treaty of Edinburgh brought about a cessation of hostility between England and France, and the establishment of the Great Council of the Realm, a ruling body of twelve members. The Great Council of the Realm would consist of seven members chosen by Queen Mary and five by the Parliament.

  Mary’s decision to cross the English Channel and travel through a portion of England on her journey northward to Scotland was the beginning of her own end. Mary made an error in judgement by travelling through England with her banners bearing her heraldic achievement, which included the English coat-of-arms. This was tantamount to Mary declaring that she was the rightful monarch over England. Elizabeth, Queen of England, took this as an affront to her own authority. It began a thirty year duel between the two royal ladies. Elizabeth’s distrust and resentment of Mary Stuart went deeper than a simple disagreement over coats-of-arms, though. A question regarding the legitimacy of Elizabeth’s claim to the throne had been voiced, and if she were to be disqualified, it would be Mary Stuart who would succeed her (she being the legitimate granddaughter of King Henry VII).

  Once she had arrived in her homeland, Mary married her cousin, Henry, Lord Darnley in 1565. He was young and not very handsome, but as one of her court noted, he was “the luƒtieƒt and beƒt proportionit man that ƒche had ƒeen.” The scandal over the marriage aroused a hatred toward her by her previously loyal Scottish subjects. Lord James Stewart, the Earl of Moray, generally shunned by Mary and smarting over being passed up for membership in the Great Council of the Realm, plotted a revolution with other Protestant nobles. The revolt, as it were, was subdued in what came to be called the ‘Chase About Raid.’

  As time went on, Mary and her young husband grew apart; he was jealous of her circle of favorites. Darnley gathered about himself a group of nobles including the Lord Lindsay, Lord Ruthven and the Earl of Morton with the intention of breaking up that circle of favorites. On 09 February, 1566 the group broke into the Queen’s chambers and dragged her Italian musician-secretary, David Rizzio from the room. Darnley’s group inflicted fifty-six stab wounds on his body, and it was Darnley’s own knife that was found stuck in Rizzio’s body after the attack. Darnley, of course, was implicated in the murder of Rizzio. He fled to safety in England, but was permitted to return to Scotland within a year’s time.

  Three months after Rizzio’s murder, Mary gave birth to a son, who would later be crowned as King James VI of Scotland/James I of England. It was rumoured throughout the land that this son would be as wise as Solomon because he was surely the son of a David who played the harp. The child was to be christened, and Queen Elizabeth was asked to become his godmother.

  In Lord Darnley’s absence, Mary began to dally with James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who had just become a married man a short while prior. As a result of their affair, Mary was pregnant with Bothwell’s child when Lord Darnley returned to Scotland. In the social climate of the Sixteenth Century, Mary’s pregnancy to another man was not outstanding or unique, but Mary felt, nonetheless that it would be best to remove Darnley entirely from the scene. And so, a year after the Rozzio murder, Darnley was himself murdered in an explosion of the Kirk O’Fields House in which he was convalescing from a bout of smallpox, or some authorities maintain, syphilis. After the explosion on the night of 10 February, 1567, Darnley’s body was found in the garden. His death was discovered to be caused, not by the explosion, but by strangulation. Mary was implicated in her husband’s murder, but it could not be proven. But her lover, Bothwell was not so easily released from suspicion. A trial was called by Lennox, but Bothwell was acquitted of the murder.

  Following Darnley’s death, the Earl of Bothwell divorced his wife and, on 15 May, married Mary. Bothwell was one of the most hated members of Mary’s court, but he commanded a large number of loyal followers. The common people were outraged and a number of Protestant Scottish lords rebelled against the queen’s actions, associating them with her being Catholic.

  As the furor against Mary increased, Bothwell abandoned her. Her army even abandoned her at this low point in her life. Her Majesty, Mary Queen of Scots, was forced to abdicate the throne in favor of her young son. She couldn’t quite come to terms with the fact that her right to the throne was ended and so she would attempt to retake it later on. Mary’s half-brother, the Earl of Moray (variously Murray) was named Regent for the young King James VI. Mary was taken prisoner and held under guard, first at Edinburgh and later at Loch Levan Castle. The people shouted daily for her execution. It was Elizabeth who urged the Scottish lord to refrain from an execution, fearing it would be an invitation to certain European nations to invade the island.

  Mary was held in confinement for ten months, during which time she hatched a plot to escape. In May 1568, Mary successfully escaped. Some loyal followers led by the Hamiltons and including Muirheads, rallied around her standard and confronted her opponents in the Battle of Langside in May, 1568. Losing that battle, Mary then fled southward to what she thought would be safety in her cousin, Elizabeth’s court. Instead of giving her sanctuary, though, Elizabeth, a staunch Protestant and unwilling to allow the avowed-Catholic move freely throughout the kingdom, imprisoned Mary. Elizabeth held Mary at Fotheringhay Castle until a proper charge could be brought against her. That came with her being implicated in the Babington Conspiracy; she was executed in February of 1587.

The Beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots
~ Source unknown.

  James Muirhead of Lauchope, son of James and Janet (Baillie) Muirhead, was a supporter of Mary Queen of Scots through his affinity to the Hamiltons ~ indeed his wife was the sister of James Hamilton of Bothwelhaugh. The Hamiltons had also supported James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. James Muirhead, along with other of Mary’s loyal supporters, marched under her standard in an attempt to restore Mary to her liberty and sovereignty. It is believed that no fewer than nine earls, twelve commendators, twelve bishops and eighteen lords rallied around Mary. An army of between 5,000 and 6,000 soldiers was raised. This army was defeated by supporters of her son, James VI, led by Mary’s half-brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, in the battle that took place at Langside on 13 May, 1568.

  Mary’s army headed toward Dumbarton Castle, traveling along the south side of the Clyde River. The route to Dumbarton would take the army around Glasgow, through Rutherglen and then on toward the village of Langside. Langside was the only passable spot through the marshes along the Clyde. The army established a camp on Mount Florida, a ridge outside of Langside.(2.7)

  After receiving word of the movement of Mary’s army, the Earl of Moray had led a somewhat smaller, albeit more experienced, army westward. It was assumed that Mary would attempt to gain Dumbarton, and therefore would have to pass through Langside. Moray’s army arrived at Langside before Mary’s army, giving them time to set up a trap. Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange commanded a company of flying cavalry; he was dispatched to take control of the town. Musketeers were placed behind hedgerows lining the roads leading to the town, so that they would be able to concentrate their fire onto the road. The cavalry then took up positions behind the musketeers. Moray, himself a seasoned military man, would command a force positioned on the ridge known as Camphill. It was the site of an old Roman fortification.

  The battle began with a cannonade from both armies, neither of which had much effect on the other side. After a short time of ineffectual bombardment, the queen’s army began an ill-fated move forward.

  The Earl of Argyll, commanding Mary’s army (it was thought too dangerous for her to lead the army herself), directed a detachment of foot soldiers under the command of Lord Claud Hamilton to head into the town by way of the main road, which today bears the name of Battlefield Road. The musketeers under Kirkcaldy of Grange held their fire until the very last moment. Hamilton’s column marched forward. At last the musketeers let loose a volley that raked through the column of foot soldiers with deadly precision. The survivors fell back in disorder, but were soon reformed into a column, and began another advance. This second advance fared no better than the initial one; within a few short minutes the road was covered with large numbers of casualties. Hamilton’s column once again broke and retreated in disorder.

  If Mary would have placed a more competent commander at the head of her army, what happened next might have been different. The Earl of Argyll was not experienced at warfare. As Hamilton’s troops fell back in disorder, a more capable or seasoned commander would have moved the reserve troops into place to support or take the battle weary soldiers’ places. Instead, as Hamilton’s exhausted men retreated, Argyll simply watched in horror. He failed to direct any of the other troops forward. The path of flight of the survivors of Hamilton’s detachment took them headlong into the troops Argyll held immobile and awaiting their orders. But the flight of Hamilton’s men was contagious, and the rest of Mary’s army broke rank and fled from the field. And following on the heels of Hamilton’s men was Moray’s cavalry, cutting down Argyll’s men as they fled. The battle was soon over.

  Mary, accompanied by Lord Claud Hamilton and a number of other supporters, spurred their horses and headed eastward from the battlefield. In a letter to her uncle in France, Mary confided:

I have endured injureies, calumnies, impriƒonment, famine, cold, heat, flight not knowing whither, 92 miles acroƒƒ the country without ƒtopping or alighting, and then I have had to ƒleep upon the ground and drink ƒour milk, and eat oatmeal without bread, and have been three nights like the owls.

  Hundreds of Mary’s supporters had lost their lives, and many more had been taken captive at Langside. But more importantly, Mary lost her last chance of regaining control of the Scottish throne.

  For his part in the support of Mary, James Muirhead was ‘forfeited by a parliamentary attainder’ according to Nisbet, which means that he was fined or otherwise penalized for having committed treason against the government. Under the Register of the Great Seal,(2.8) James Muirhead ‘sometime of Lachop’ was forced to forfeit his ‘lands of Balgredan’, which were then given to Mathew Stewart, son and heir apparent of Thomas Stewart of Minto. This was the result of a Process against him, dated the 21st of May, 1568 for his involvement in the Battle of Langside in which he opposed the Crown and Regent.

  James Muirhead continued to support Mary, and the next evidence of that support on record came in January of 1570.

  James Hamilton of Bothwelhaugh had been captured in the battle of Langside, but had been granted pardon by the Earl of Moray. One would assume that Hamilton would have been treated well considering that he had been part of a body of rebels against the legally declared King of Scotland. But it seems that a certain piece of property belonging to Hamilton had been declared forfeited. The rights to the property was conferred, by the Earl of Moray, upon one of his friends. That friend, anxious to take possession of the property, drove the inhabitant of the estate, the wife of Hamilton, who had just recently delivered a child, half-naked into the fields. The terror drove the lady quite mad, and her husband vowed to take vengeance on the Earl of Moray because he had instigated the injury to occur. The Hamilton kinsmen along with others, no doubt including the Muirheads, encouraged James Hamilton of Bothwelhaugh to enact revenge upon the Regent.

  On the 29th of January, James Hamilton of Bothwelhaugh shot and killed James Stewart, the Earl of Moray, the regent for young King James VI, in the town of Linlithgow. He had secreted himself in an empty house in Linlithgow, and waited for the Earl of Moray to pass by.

  After mortally wounding the Regent, Hamilton fled the scene. James Muirhead welcomed Hamilton, his brother-in-law into his home of Lauchope House and sheltered him for the night. James Muirhead joined Hamilton the following morning as he continued in his flight.

  The party which had been sent out to take Hamilton captive discovered that he had been given refuge at Lauchope House. They first rifled it, and then set it afire and burned it to the ground. Their anger toward the Muirheads was, no doubt, heightened by the knowledge that the lady of the house was the sister of their quarry.

  In July 1570 the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer noted(2.9) that a messenger had been sent to the mercat crosses (i.e. market squares) at Edinburgh and Linlithgow requesting that people give up the names of the ‘aƒsiƒteris and pertakeris’ associated with Claude Hamilton, James Muirhead of Lachop, Arthur Hamilton of Myrringtoun and Andro Hamilton of Gosington, who, on the 23rd of July ‘awaitit upoun the regent his grace and the erle of Mar in Calendar wod’.

  On 03 July, 1572 a proclamation of warning(2.10) was issued against “James ƒumtyme Duke of Chaƒtallarault (various Hamiltons and others), James Muirhead ƒumtyme of Lawchope...” The entry recorded in the Register of the Privy Council stated:

“(It being needful that the traitors and rebels inhabiting the country of Cliddeƒdale ƒhould) be ƒpecialie proclamit and notifiit that name pretend ignorance heirefter; thairfor ordanis letters be to direct to officiaris of armes, Shereffis in that part, chargeing thame to pas to the mercat croces of Lanerk Hammiltoun, Glaƒgow, and utheris places neidfull and their be oppin proclamatioun in our Soverane Lordis name and auctoritie command and charge all and ƒundrie his Hienes lieges and subdittis, that name of thame tak upoun to reƒort, ƒupple or intercommon with - James ƒumtyme Duke of Chaƒtallarault, (various Hamiltons and others and) James Mureheid ƒumtyme of Lawchope, - or to any of the ƒaidis perƒonis or to their knowing or notarius ƒervandis, meitt, drink, houƒe and herbery or ƒend or reƒsave meƒsages or intelligence to or fra thame under the pane of treƒsoun with certificatious to thame that failyeis and dois in the contrair, they ƒalbe repute, haldin, eƒtemi-- perƒewit, puneiƒt and demandit as plane partakeris with the ƒaidis declararatouris and rebellis with all rigour in exemple of utheris.”

  The ‘forfeiture’ or penalty toward the Muirheads and Hamiltons continued for some three years until a general pacification ‘to remove troubles and civil war within the realm’(2.11) was reached on 23 February, 1573, on the condition that the Hamiltons and Muirheads disband and return home. The Act which remitted the condemnation of James Muirhead and the others for their involvement in the affair stated:

“That the ƒentences paƒt be doom and forfaulture in parliament, or anie other ƒentence paƒt before the juƒtice-general or his deputies, ƒince the 15th day of June 1567, ƒhall be of no avail, force, ƒtrength, or effect in all time coming.”