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Archibald Campbell (1598-1661)

A Member of the Westminster Assembly and a Presbyterian Covenanter
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“Fear your Creator and serve Him with all your might.”

His Works:

  • A declaration of the Marquesse of Argyle, with the rest of the Lords, and others of the Estates of the kingdom of Scotland, concerning the Kings Maiesty, and the treaty; and their desires to the Parliament of England (1648) by Archibald Campbell
    A letter from the Marques of Argile and Sir William Armyn, in the name of themselves and their confederates, to Sir Thomas Glemham (1643) by Archibald Campbell
  • A letter sent from the marquess of Argyle to the King of Scots (1652) by Archibald Campbell
  • A most noble speech spoken by the Lord Cambel of Lorne. one of his Majesties most Honourable Privie Counsell of Scotland (1641) by Archibald Campbell
  • A speech by the Marquesse of Argile to the Honourable Lords and Commons in Parliament. 25. June 1646 (1646) by Archibald Campbell
  • A true copy of a speech delivered in the Parliament in Scotland, by the Earle of Argile, concerning the government of the Church (1641) by Archibald Campbell
  • An honourable speech made in the Parlament of Scotland by the Earle of Argile (being now competitor with Earle Morton for the chancellorship) the thirtieth of September 1641 (1641) by Archibald Campbell
  • Edinburgh, at the Parliament-House (1661) by Archibald Campbell
  • Instructions to a son (1661) by Archibald Campbell
  • Letters from the Marquesse of Argyle, the Earle of Lanerick, Lord Warriston, and others now at Edenburgh, to their friends at London (1645) by Archibald Campbell
  • My Lord Marquis of Argyle his speech upon the scaffold, the 27 of May 1661 (1661) by Archibald Campbell
  • The Lord Marques of Argyle’s speech to a grand committee of both Houses of Parliament, the 25th of this instant June, 1646 (1646) by Archibald Campbell
  • The Marques of Argyll his defences against the grand indytement of high treason, exhibited against him to the Parliament in Scotland. (1661) by Archibald Campbell
  • The Marquess of Argile his answer to his charge sent unto him in the Castle of Edinburgh, the 28. of January. (1661) by Archibald Campbell
  • The Marquess of Argyle his petition to the Parliament of Scotland (1661) by Archibald Campbell
  • The Marquesse of Argyle his speech concerning the King, the Covenant, and peace or warre betweene both kingdomes (1648) by Archibald Campbell
  • The speech and plea of Archibald Marquesse of Argyle to the Parliament of Scotland at Edinburgh on the 5 (1661) by Archibald Campbell
  • The speech of the late Marquiss of Argyll upon the scaffold May 27· 1661 (1661) by Archibald Campbell
  • To the Kings Most Excellent Majesty the humble petition of Archibald Marquess of Argyle (1661) by Archibald Campbell


Biography of Archibald Campbell:

Archibald Campbell (1598-1661) Marquis of Argyll and eighth Earl (1598–1661), was eldest son of Archibald, seventh earl of Argyll by his first wife, Lady Anne Douglas, daughter of the first Earl of Morton, and was born in 1598. During the last desperate struggle of the Clandonalds, in 1615, he was present with his father at the conflicts which resulted in their subjugation. His father, before openly adopting the catholic religion and entering the service of Philip of Spain, had taken the precaution to convey to him the fee of his estates (letter of council to the king, 2 Feb. 1619: manuscript in Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh, quoted in Gregory’s Western Highlands, ed. 1881, p. 401), and from this time he continued, while only lord of Lorne, to wield the vast territorial influence of the family. Clarendon affirms that the old earl afterwards, provoked by his son’s disobedience and insolence, resolved to bequeath his estates away from him, but was compelled by the king ‘to make over all his estates to his son’ (History, ii. 58), and partial confirmation of the statement is to be found in the ‘Acts of the Scottish Parliament,’ v. 80 (1633), which contain a ratification to him of a charter to his father in life-rent and himself in fee of the earldom of Argyll, and of a renunciation to him by his father of his life-rent. In an act of 1661 (Acts of the Scottish Parliament, vii. 340) it is also asserted that after he obtained the life-rent he ‘put his father to intolerable straits,’ which gives a colour of credibility to the further statement of Clarendon that the old earl prophesied the king would live to repent having bestowed favours on him, for he was ‘a man of craft, subtilty, and falsehood, and can love no man’ (History, ii. 58). But while undoubtedly the father and son were thus not on the best of terms with each other, it is not so certain that the whole blame of this rested with the son. In common with the children of the earl’s first wife, Lorne had been educated in the protestant religion, for it was not the son, as S. R. Gardiner states, but the father who ‘threw off his religion,’ and the religious feuds between the two families were so insuperable a barrier to confidence and trust as to render strict precautions on the part of Lorne absolutely necessary. The possessions of the Argylls had under the old earl been greatly extended by the suppression of the Clangregors, Clandonalds, and other outlawed races, and when Lorne entered on the life-rent of his father’s estates he ‘was by far the most powerful subject in the kingdom’ (Baillie, Letters and Journals, i. 145). In a proclamation issued in 1639 in the king’s name to free those who held their lands in certain tenures, to hold the same immediately of the king under easier conditions, it was estimated that the Earl of Argyll, by virtue of those tenures, held command of twenty thousand men (Cal. State Papers, Dom., 1639, p. 5). Within his own territory he was, by virtue of his special office of justiciary, a potentate exercising almost royal power, and if dreaded rather than loved by many who had been compelled to bear the name of the clan, he exercised over them a more thorough discipline and had welded their rival interests into more complete unity than prevailed elsewhere in the highlands.

In the great Scottish ecclesiastical dispute with the sovereign, which had reached a crisis in 1638, the side which Lorne should take was thus a matter of prime importance to both parties. He had not as yet committed himself to the covenanting party. For many years he had basked in the smiles of royal favour. On the occasion of the king’s visit to Scotland in 1633 for coronation he was confirmed in his office of justiciary and the possession of the life-rent of the estates of his father. In 1634 he was chosen an extraordinary lord of session. From the time that in 1626 he was chosen a privy councillor he had acted, until 1637, with great caution in regard to ecclesiastical matters. The first indication of his decided opposition to episcopacy was when in the latter year he had a dispute with the Bishop of Galloway regarding the imprisonment of a guardian of Viscount Kenmure, who on the occasion of the communion being dispensed to the people kneeling had ‘cryit out saying it wes plane idolatrie’ (Spalding, Memorials of the Trubles, i. 78). Lorne offered the bishop 500 merks of fine to free him, expecting that the offer would itself sufficiently heal the bishop’s wounded amour propre. When the bishop took the money ‘without ceremony,’ Lorne was deeply offended, and at a private meeting which he convened he and other influential noblemen began ‘to regrait their dangerous estait with the pryd and avarice of the prelatis, seiking to overrule the haill kingdome’ (ib. i. 79). After the renewal of the covenant in 1638, in opposition to the attempt of the king to introduce the Book of Common Prayer and other ‘innovations,’ Lorne, along with Traquair and Roxburgh, was summoned to London to advise the king, Lorne being ‘sent for by a privy missive, not by a letter to the council as the other two’ (Baillie, Letters, i. 70). Indeed, the main purpose of the king was to secure the support of Lorne to his schemes, and well might Baillie write, ‘We tremble for Lorne that the king either persuade him to go his way or find him errands at court for a long time.’ Courage of the highest kind was required to enable him to conduct himself with credit, and he displayed a straightforward honesty and resolution at least as remarkable as his wariness. He was, Baillie mentions, ‘very plain with the king,’ and, having been brought into controversy with Laud, ‘did publicly avow his contempt of his malice’ (ib. i. 73). Clarendon states that the old earl, then in London, advised the king to retain him a prisoner at court, but he was permitted to depart, arriving at Edinburgh 20 May. The only motive Baillie could discover to ‘make that man’ to side with the covenanters ‘in that necessary time, to the extreme hazard of his head,’ was ‘the equity of the cause,’ and so far as this implies that Lorne was incapable of acting from mere headstrong impulse, no objection can be taken to it. As yet the king had not come to an open and irreconcilable breach with Lorne when he left London, but he gave a secret commission to the Earl of Antrim, the patron of the outlawed Clandonalds, to invade Argyllshire ostensibly on his own account. Lorne at once divined whom he had to thank for it, as is evident from his letter to Strafford of 25 July (Strafford, Letters, ii. 187). To a hint of Strafford’s that ‘it behoves persons of your lordship’s blood and abilities actively and avowedly to serve the crown,’ he replies in a second letter, 9 Oct., containing much skilful parrying and dexterous home-thrusts, but winding up with the confident expectation ‘of, God willing, a fair and happy conclusion very shortly’ (ib. ii. 220). Possibly the only result of the insinuations and hints of Strafford was to increase Lorne’s distrust of the policy of the king, and the death of the old Earl of Argyll, which happened shortly before the meeting of the assembly of the kirk at Glasgow in November, left him greater freedom of action. But though he attended the assembly he seemed more desirous to discover what its temper really was than to influence its opinion one way or another. So far from being the sour bigot he is sometimes represented, Argyll, as he states in ‘Instructions to a Son,’ had no preference for presbyterianism and extempore prayers over episcopacy and service books, except that the former was what the great bulk of his countrymen had adopted. He saw that the policy of the king was doing violence to the deepest convictions of the nation, and that the only chance of preventing a catastrophe was to present a firm front of resistance to his unreasonable demands. When advice and soft words proved of no avail in altering the bent of the king’s purpose, he resolved to stake his all with the covenanters. Argyll was the only member of the privy council who did not retire with the Marquis of Hamilton when the assembly was dissolved from sitting any longer. Though not a member of the assembly he, at the request of the moderator, agreed to attend the subsequent meetings, at which episcopacy was abolished, and to ‘bear witness to the righteousness of their proceedings.’ On the arrival of the king’s proclamation, declaring the procedure of the assembly to be the act of traitors, the covenanters placed their forces under Alexander Leslie On 20 Feb. 1639 Argyll sent a letter to Laud in defence of the Scots, containing a statement which rested the position they had taken up on unassailable constitutional principles (Melbourne MSS., quoted in Gardiner’s Hist. of England, viii. 392). Meanwhile he took the precaution of raising a force of nine hundred men, a portion of whom he left in Kintyre to watch the Irish, another portion in Lorne to hold the Clandonalds in check, while with the remainder he passed over into Arran, where he seized the castle of Brodick, belonging to the Marquis of Hamilton. On learning that the king had decided on an invasion of Scotland, Argyll sent him a letter, ‘which’ Rossingham, writing under date 16 April, says ‘his majesty does tear all to pieces as resolving to have his head’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1639, p. 52). The mood of Charles, however, underwent a rapid alteration after his arrival at Berwick, where he found Leslie encamped on Dunse Law barring his further progress with a superior force. As the Scots would ‘not think to treat’ without Argyll, he was sent for to conduct the negotiation. He had been lying with a considerable army round Stirling, in the heart of the country, to be ready in case of ‘unexpected accidents’ (Baillie, Letters, i. 211), and leaving the bulk of his followers there, he, in a few days, joined the main army and set up his tent on the hill, where, according to Baillie, the highlanders who accompanied him aroused the wonder of the English visiting the camp (ib. i. 212). The pacification of Berwick, 18 June 1639, substantially promised all that the covenanters asked, but its terms were not sufficiently clear. The substantial fruits of the victory Argyll therefore resolved to gather as quickly as possible. Episcopacy having been abolished, it was necessary that successors should be chosen for the bishops as lords of the articles. Montrose [see Graham, James, first Marquis], who here first indicated a divergence in opinion from Argyll, proposed that their place should be taken by fourteen laymen appointed by the king; but Argyll was too astute to let slip the magnificent chance of striking a fatal blow at the irresponsible influence of the king, and moved that each estate should in future choose its own lord of the articles, which was carried by a bare majority of one, the barons and burgesses being thenceforth represented by sixteen votes, the nobility by eight, and the king by none. The change was momentous, for the result was, in the words of S. R. Gardiner (Hist. of England, ix. 54), to make the parliament and not the king ‘the central force in Scotland.’

Meantime information had reached the English court of the draft of a letter written before the Berwick pacification by some of the Scottish leaders to Louis XIII, soliciting his interest in the affairs of the Scots (Letter in Rushworth, part ii. vol. ii. 1120). The letter does not appear to have been sent, but Charles made it a pretext for committing the Earl of Loudon to the Tower. He was soon afterwards liberated, but the incident was the occasion, if not the cause, of a renewal of hostilities. When the king ordered the prorogation of parliament, in May 1640, Argyll moved that it be held without his sanction, and in order to take measures against the hostile preparations of the king, a committee of estates was formed to which was entrusted the practical government of the kingdom. Of this committee Argyll was not a member, but he was ‘major potestas,’ and ‘all knew that it was his influence that gave being, life, and motion to the new-modelled governors.’ On 12 June a commission of ‘fire and sword’ was issued by the committee of estates to Argyll against the Earl of Atholl and the Ogilvies, who had taken up arms in behalf of the king. With a force of four thousand men he swept over the districts of Badenoch, Atholl, and Mar, according to the hostile chroniclers stripping the fields of the sheep and cattle. At the Fords of Lyon he found Atholl posted with a strong force, and, it is said, on promise of a safe return, inveigled him to an interview, when, failing in an attempt to win him over, he sent him a prisoner to Edinburgh, where, after making his submission, he was liberated. Argyll then descended into Angus, attacking the Ogilvies and burning their house to the ground. The incidents of its destruction, as recorded in the ballad ‘The Bonnie Hoose o’ Airlie,’ must not be accepted as literally true, for Lady Ogilvie did not treat the summons of Argyll with scorn, but had left the house for some time before its destruction, and the actual execution of the act was entrusted by Argyll to a subordinate, Dugald Campbell of Inverawe, whom he enjoined only to fire it if the operation of destroying it was ‘langsome,’ adding, with characteristic caution, ‘You need not let know that you have directions from me to fire it’ (Letter quoted in full in Notes and Queries, third series, vi. 383, from original in possession of the correspondent). The cruelties exercised by Argyll during the raid formed one of the charges in the indictment on which he was executed, but do not appear to have been for those times exceptionally severe.

Learning that Charles was again raising an army against them, the Scots, under Leslie, in August of this year passed into England in strong array ‘to present their grievances to the king’s majesty,’ and taking possession of Newcastle remained quartered in Northumberland and Durham till negotiations were entered into with the king at Ripon on 1 Oct. Montrose had accompanied the army, but already ominous differences had arisen between him and Argyll. He had strongly opposed the motion of Argyll for holding a parliament in opposition to the king; he had already entered into correspondence with Charles on his own account, and before crossing the Tweed he and other noblemen signed, in August, at Cumbernauld, a bond ‘against the particular and indirect practicking of the few’ (see copy in Baillie’s Letters and Journals, ii. 468, and Napier’s Memorials of Montrose, i. 254). Shortly afterwards the bond was discovered by Argyll, but it was deemed sufficient to burn it by order of the committee of estates. The clemency only irritated more acutely Montrose’s jealousy of Argyll, and drove him to more desperate courses. The predominant influence wielded by Argyll over the committee of estates Montrose interpreted into an assumption of dictatorship over the kingdom, which for the time being it undoubtedly was; and information he had received from various enemies of Argyll corroborated his own conviction that a plan was in preparation for the formal recognition of the dictatorship and the deposition of the king. He thereupon communicated what he had learned to Charles, who agreed to pay a visit to Scotland in the summer, when Montrose, according to arrangement, would in his place in parliament accuse Argyll before the king of meditating treason against the throne. Montrose was, however, ill fitted to manage a matter requiring such exceptional caution. Already he had bruited his charges against Argyll throughout the country, and Argyll called him to answer for his speeches. Montrose, acknowledging at once his responsibility for the charges, named his authorities, but his principal witness, Stewart of Ladywell, wrote a letter to Argyll admitting that he had, ‘through prejudicate of his lordship,’ wrested words which he had heard him speak at the Fords of Lyon from their proper meaning. The correspondence of Montrose with the king and the secret purpose of his majesty’s visit were revealed in the course of the inquiry. While by his confession Stewart did not save his life, Montrose and other noblemen were on 11 June committed to the castle of Edinburgh on a charge of plotting. With Montrose in prison, and Argyll probably in the secret of the whole conspiracy, Charles found the outlook in Scotland completely altered. On receipt of the news that the scheme had miscarried, he wrote on 12 June a letter to Argyll repudiating the rumour that his journey to Scotland was ‘only desired and procured by Montrose and Traquair,’ and asserting that, so far from intending division, his aim was ‘to establish peace in state and religion in the church’ (Letter in Letters to the Argyll Family, p. 36, and in Memorials of Montrose, i. 282). Argyll grasped the situation at once as regards both Scotland and England, and resolved to make the most of a golden opportunity. As the king, before setting out for Scotland, had on 12 Aug. given his sanction to an act confirming the treaty with the Scots, he was received on his arrival with the warmest manifestations of good-will. On 30 Aug., when he was entertained at a banquet in the parliament house, the rejoicings in Edinburgh resembled, it is said, the celebration of a jubilee. The king yielded, almost without a murmur, to the demands of Argyll that no political or judicial office should be filled up without the approval of parliament, and during six weeks’ discussion of questions bristling with controversial difficulties the prevailing harmony between him and the estates was scarcely broken, when suddenly on 12 Oct. the city was roused to feverish excitement by the news that Hamilton, Lanark, and Argyll had on the previous night left the city and fled to Kenneil House. Gradually the rumour spread that a plot had been formed to arrest them by armed men under the Earl of Crawford in the king’s bedchamber. Of the existence of a plot of some kind the depositions of the witnesses leave no room for doubt (see copies of depositions relating to the ‘Incident’ in Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. 163–70), but probably Argyll’s flight was chiefly a subtle stroke of policy to unmask his enemies. In any case the ‘Incident,’ as it afterwards came to be called, had rendered Argyll so completely master of the situation that he did not think it worth while to institute a prosecution against the authors of the plot. After a private examination of witnesses the result of the inquiry was stated in vague terms to be that Crawford had been plotting something desperate, and that ‘nothing was found that touched the king.’ Shortly afterwards Montrose and other ‘incendiaries’ were liberated, all outstanding difficulties were arranged, and the king, in token of his complete reconciliation with the covenanters, made a liberal distribution of honours among their leaders, the greatest being reserved for Argyll, who on 15 Nov. was raised to the dignity of marquis.

The result of the king’s journey to Scotland had been, in the words of Clarendon, ‘only to make a perfect deed of gift of that kingdom’ to the covenanting party. Argyll had been able by subtle and dexterous manœuvring to transfer the whole administrative power in Scotland from the king to the parliament. The king had been completely outwitted. To obtain the aid of the Scots against the English parliament, he had granted to the Scottish parliament concessions with which the English parliament would have been perfectly satisfied. They were thus encouraged to be only the more importunate in their demands, while Argyll saw clearly that to pay Charles the price he desired for his concessions would be suicidal, and that the fruits of the great constitutional victory won in Scotland could only be secured by a similar victory of the parliament in England. In order to smooth the way towards a peaceful arrangement of the dispute, the Scottish privy council in January 1641–2 offered themselves as mediators, but their offers were rejected by Charles. Finding that his policy of concession had been a total failure, Charles endeavoured to win the support of the Scots against the English parliament by stratagem and force. On 25 May a special meeting of the privy council was fixed to be held, at which an effort was to be made to overawe a decision for the king. Kinnoul, Roxburghe, and other noblemen brought with them to Edinburgh a large body of armed retainers, but the rumour having spread that the life or liberty of Argyll was in danger, large crowds flocked into Edinburgh from Fife and the Lothians, and thus any intentions of violence were necessarily abandoned.

For some time after the outbreak of the civil war in England the Scots remained inactive, and it was only after the subscription by the English houses of parliament and the Westminster Assembly of the solemn league and covenant that in January 1643–4 a Scotch army, under the Earl of Leven, entered England by Berwick, Argyll accompanying it as representative of the committee of estates. This procedure roused into activity the ultra-royalists in Scotland, and seemed to give to Montrose the opportunity for which he had been waiting. Hostilities were begun in the north by the Marquis of Huntly, who, after making prisoner the provost and magistrates of Aberdeen and plundering the town of its arms and ammunition, began his march southward. Argyll, who had lately returned from England, was in April despatched against him, and coming up with him near Montrose, which he had plundered and burned, compelled him to retreat to Aberdeenshire. On 12 July news reached the Scottish parliament of the landing at Ardnamurchan, in the north of Argyllshire, of two thousand Irish and Scoto-Irish, and on the 16th Argyll received a commission to advance against the invaders. It was the territory of Argyll alone which was threatened, and no doubt was entertained that he would easily cope with the danger; but it suddenly became apparent that the incursion only formed part of a much more comprehensive scheme.

According to Clarendon, Argyll was the person whom Montrose ‘most hated and contemned.’ It was on Montrose’s recommendation that the expedition from Ireland had been undertaken, and to act in concert with it he, on 1 Feb. 1643–4, received a commission appointing him lieutenant-general of all his majesty’s forces in Scotland. While the question at issue between Argyll and Montrose was less that of king and covenant than personal rivalry, the highlanders who flocked to Montrose’s banner were actuated more by hatred of Argyll than by loyal or religious motives; in the words of Macaulay, ‘a powerful coalition of clans waged war nominally for King Charles, but really against MacCallum More.’ To avoid Argyll, who was approaching from the west, Montrose, with a force of 2,500 Irishmen and highlanders, marched southwards across the Tay, and, after defeating a covenanting force of six thousand men under Elcho at Tippermuir on 1 Sept. 1644, entered Perth. Argyll hung on his skirts as he retreated northwards by Dundee and Aberdeen, but never could come within striking distance, and as Argyll approached Aberdeen he withdrew westwards towards the Spey, and descending through the wilds of Badenoch again entered Atholl. Disconcerted by the rapidity of his movements, Argyll induced the estates to proclaim him a traitor, and offered a reward of 20,000l. (Scots) for his head. Only once, at Fyvie Castle, which he had taken on 14 Oct., was Montrose almost caught in a trap; but making a feint of ostentatious preparation for a desperate resistance, he drew off his forces while Argyll was making his dispositions. Passing northwards he went to Strathbogie with the hope of rousing the Gordons, but being unable to win them over he retired again into the wilds of Badenoch. Here he learned that Argyll, having sent his horse into winter quarters, was at Dunkeld with a number of his followers, tampering with the Atholl men. By a night march over the mountainous region that lay between him and Atholl, he endeavoured to pounce on Argyll unawares, but the latter, learning his approach while he was yet sixteen miles off, broke up his camp and retreated to Perth, where there was a strong garrison (Rushworth, Historical Collections, ed. 1692, pt. iii. vol. ii. 985). On his return to Edinburgh, Argyll, giving as his reason that he had been insufficiently supported with money and troops, resigned his commission, which was given to Baillie [see Baillie, William, fl. 1648]. Argyll then proceeded to his castle at Inverary, securely relying on the almost inaccessible mountain passes, when suddenly one morning in the middle of December ‘the trembling cowherds came down from the hills and told him that the enemy was within two miles of him’ (ib.) Barely making his escape in a fishing boat, he fled to his castle at Roseneath, on the Clyde, and from 13 Dec. to the end of January Montrose burned and devastated Argyll and Lorn at his pleasure. Towards the end of January news reached the committee of estates, in consultation with Argyll at Roseneath, that Montrose was marching northwards by Lochaber, as if to challenge the covenanters in the north under Seaforth. It was therefore determined that while Baillie should hold the central districts round Perth, Argyll, with a thousand lowland infantry lent him by Baillie, and as many of his own broken followers as he could hurriedly muster, should follow on the track of Montrose and fall on him when engaged with Seaforth, or cut off his retreat if he were defeated. On news reaching Montrose that Argyll was thirty miles behind him at Inverlochy, Montrose resolved to attempt the extraordinary feat of leading his hardy followers over the Lochaber mountains, so as to take the camp of Argyll on its flank and rear. On the evening of Saturday, 1 Feb., sounds were heard by the troops of Argyll as if a storm were gathering in the direction of Ben Nevis, and soon in the frosty moonlight the forces of Montrose were seen by the outposts descending from the skirts of the mountain. Having sent out skirmishers to feel the position of Argyll, Montrose delayed his attack till the morning, and Argyll took advantage of the respite to embark with other members of the committee of estates on board his galley in Loch Eil, the command of his troops being entrusted to an experienced officer, his kinsman Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck. It was stated that Argyll had been compelled by his friends to embark, because owing to a fall from his horse some days previously he was ‘disabled to use either sword or pistol.’ On the morrow Argyll witnessed from his galley the greatest disaster that had ever befallen his house, fifteen hundred of the Campbells, including their leader, and five hundred duniwassels being either massacred or driven into the lake and drowned. Sailing down the lake, Argyll then proceeded to Edinburgh, arriving on 12 Feb., when, says Guthry, ‘he went straight to the parliament, having his left arm in a sling as if he had been at bones-breaking.’ The day previous Montrose had been declared guilty of high treason, but his victorious career was continued until, by his great triumph at Kilsyth on 15 Aug., all Scotland was for a time at his mercy. Baillie, the nominal commander of the covenanters, afterwards affirmed the real cause of the disaster to have been the unwarrantable interference of the committee of estates, the chief member of which was Argyll. From the battle Argyll escaped on horseback to Queensferry, where he got on board ship and sailed down the Firth to Newcastle. This has been attributed to panic, but may be sufficiently accounted for by a desire to be in communication with the Earl of Leven and his strong force of covenanters in England. Shortly afterwards Argyll was in Berwickshire endeavouring to counteract the negotiations of Montrose with the border lords. The victorious career of Montrose was terminated on 12 Sept. at Philliphaugh. Argyll, although again supreme in Scotland, had suffered almost as severely from the contest as Montrose. The flower of his clan had been slain either in cold blood during Montrose’s terrible winter raid, or in the struggle at Inverlochy; the glens had been stripped of their cattle; the produce of the fields had been carried away or wasted by the Irish and highland marauders. Such was the terrible destitution that prevailed, that a collection for the relief of the people of Argyll was ordered to be made throughout all the churches in Scotland; and on 1 Jan. 1646–7 the parliament ordained 10,000l. to be paid to the marquis for subsistence, and 30,000l. for the relief of the shire (Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vi. part i. pp. 643, 675). After the flight of the king to the Scots army, Argyll was sent in May 1646 to treat with him at Newcastle. He was, Charles wrote to the queen, ‘very civil and cunning’ (Charles I in 1646, Camden Society, p. 49). Writing on 10 June Charles says: ‘Argyll went yesterday to London with great profession of doing me service there; his errand (as is pretended) is only to chasten down and moderate the demands that are coming to me from thence’ (ib. 47). The professions of Argyll, as interpreted by Charles, were to a certain extent carried out in his speech on 25 June in the Painted Chamber before the committee of the lords and commons, in which he deprecated the persecution of ‘peaceable men who cannot through scruple of conscience come up in all things to the common rule,’ but he was careful to add that the personal regard for the king in Scotland ‘hath never made them forget that common rule, “The safety of the people is the supreme law”’ (The Lord Marques of Argyle’s Speech, London, printed for Laurence Chapman, 27 June 1646). Argyll did all that he thought could be done for the king with safety, and although admitting that the ultimatum was in certain respects too stringent, he impressed upon him the necessity of accepting it as inevitable. All along Argyll had supported joint action on the part of the two parliaments as the only safe course both for the cause of the king and the people. He was therefore entirely opposed to the secret treaty concluded by the Scots, by which the king bound himself to confirm the covenant, on condition that an army was sent into England to help in his restoration. On news reaching Scotland that the Scotch army sent into England under the Duke of Hamilton had been routed by Cromwell at Preston, the western covenanters, to the number of seven thousand, gathered under Leslie, earl of Leven, and marched towards Edinburgh. On his way to join them, Argyll, with a body of highlanders, was surprised by the Earl of Lanark while dining with the Earl of Mar at Stirling, but galloping across Stirling bridge he reached North Queensferry, and crossed the Firth in a small boat to Edinburgh, where the ‘Whigamores,’ as they were afterwards called, had already arrived. The incursion known as the ‘Whigamore Raid’ dealt the final blow to the cause of the king. At Edinburgh a new committee of estates was formed with Argyll at its head. Cromwell, who had been for some time in communication with Argyll, was met by him on the borders, and invited to the capital, which he entered in procession, accompanied by the civil authorities, on 4 Oct. As a condition of his friendship Cromwell demanded of the committee of estates that no person accessory to the ‘engagement’ should ‘be employed in any public place or trust whatsoever’ (Carlyle, Cromwell, letter lxxvii.), and in accordance with the pledge of the committee to that effect, Argyll, at the ensuing meeting of the parliament in January, brought forward a motion against the ‘Engagers,’ whom he classed under five heads, the act passed against them being thus known as the ‘Act of Classes’ (Balfour, Annals of Scotland, iii. 377). On 7 Oct. Cromwell was entertained by the committee at a sumptuous banquet in the castle, and the same evening he set out for England, leaving Lambert with some regiments to aid Argyll in maintaining the new arrangement.

While Cromwell was lodged at Moray House, Argyll and some others had held long conferences with him in private, and Guthry states that it was afterwards ‘talked very loud that he did communicate to them his design in reference to the king and had their consent thereto’ (Memoirs, 298). ‘Nothing,’ however, Guthry admits, ‘came to be known infallibly.’ Argyll moved for delay in giving instructions to the Scottish commissioners to protest against the trial of the king until after a fast that had been ordered (Balfour, Annals, iii. 386), but if not influenced in this by religious scruples, he may have hesitated to countenance their interference as more likely to endanger the life of the king than to save it. His asseverations at his own trial and on the scaffold must also count for something. In any case such was the universal horror awakened throughout Scotland by the news of the king’s execution, that Argyll, if he had ventured to stand against the tempest, would have involved himself in hopeless ruin. The alliance with Cromwell was therefore repudiated without a dissenting voice, and on 5 Feb. 1649–50 Charles II was proclaimed king, not merely of Scotland, but of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, at the cross of Edinburgh. The situation in which Argyll now found himself may perhaps be best understood from his own pathetic description in ‘Instructions to a Son.’ ‘By that confusion,’ he says, ‘my thoughts became distracted, and myself encountered so many difficulties that all remedies that were applied had the quite contrary operation; whatever therefore hath been said by me or others in this matter, you must repute and accept them as from a distracted man of a distracted subject in a distracted time wherein I lived.’ The policy now entered upon by him was a desperate one. He supported the movement for inviting the king to Scotland, as it was deemed of prime importance that he should land in Scotland under the auspices of the covenanters, rather than in Ireland unfettered by any oaths and promises. The king favoured the Irish proposal, and upon a temporary gleam of hope broke off negotiations with the Scotch commissioners, and despatched Montrose to Scotland to attempt the restoration of the monarchy without the aid of the covenanters. After the dispersion of his small band of followers Montrose was captured, and on 1 May 1650 brought into Edinburgh. Argyll, as he afterwards affirmed in his defence at his own trial, refused to interfere one way or another in regard to his fate; but when Montrose was paraded through the town bound on a cart on his way to the Tolbooth, ‘the procession,’ it was said, ‘was made to halt in front of the Earl of Moray’s house, where among the spectators was the Marquis of Argyll, who contemplated his enemy from a window the blinds of which were partly closed’ (M. de Graymond’s report to Cardinal Mazarin, quoted in Napier’s Memoirs of Montrose, p. 781). Writing to his nephew Lord Lothian on the day of Montrose’s execution announcing the birth of a daughter, Argyll notes that ‘her birthday is remarkable in the tragic end of James Graham at the cross,’ and adds: ‘He got some resolution after he came here how to go out of this world, but nothing at all how to enter another, not so much as once humbling himself to pray at all upon the scaffold’ (Ancrum Correspondence p. 262).

Anticipating the pledge given by him at Breda on 13 May, Charles signed the covenant while the ship in which he had embarked for Scotland was still riding at anchor in the Moray Firth, but the covenanters were determined not to be thrown off their guard, and the sole direction of affairs was still continued in the hands of the committee of estates with Argyll at their head. For his browbeating by the presbyterian clergy Charles obtained some consolation from the assurances of Argyll that ‘when he came into England he might be more free, but that for the present it was necessary to please these madmen’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, p. 310). Possibly Argyll chafed more under their domination than did Charles. Argyll took advantage of Charles’s position to make overtures for a marriage between him and his daughter, but nothing came of it owing largely to the queen’s opposition (see ‘Instructions to Captain Titus’ in Hillier’s King Charles in the Isle of Wight, 324–34). After the victory of Cromwell at Dunbar Argyll’s policy changed. Charles saw the prime necessity of preventing him entering into communications with Cromwell, and by a private letter under his sign-manual dated Perth 24 Sept. recorded his purpose to make him Duke of Argyll and knight of the Garter, and as soon as royalty was established in England to see him paid 40,000l. (Letter in app. to Eachard’s Hist.) Argyll recognised that the cause of the king was hopeless so long as the presbyterian clergy had the sole direction of affairs. He had only to choose between a desertion of the king by coming to terms with Cromwell, and an endeavour to promote an alliance between the covenanters and the royalists in Scotland and England. Possibly the actual decision of the point was taken out of his hands by the king himself, when on 4 Oct. he escaped or was permitted to escape from Perth, and joined the northern loyalists. Although the king returned to Perth on the 6th declaring that he had been treacherously deceived by some that suggested and made him believe that he was to be delivered up to the enemy (Balfour, Annals, iv. 118), not only was nothing done to punish those treacherous persons, but on 12 Oct. an act of indemnity was ordered to be passed to those in Atholl who had taken up arms upon his majesty’s departure from Perth on 4 Oct. (ib. iv. 122), and shortly afterwards Argyll and others were sent to the western covenanting army ‘to solicit unity for the good of the kingdom’ (ib. iv. 123). In order to give solidity and weight to the combination against Cromwell, preparations were also begun for the coronation of the king, which took place at Scone 1 Jan. 1651, Argyll putting the crown on his head. From this time the supremacy of Argyll in the affairs of Scotland terminated both in name and reality. For some months, though retaining his place at the helm of affairs, he had been helplessly drifting at the mercy of contending factions. As the extreme covenanters now held aloof from the king, Argyll, at the parliament which met at Perth on 13 March, found his counsels completely overruled, and from this time the struggle of Charles II against Cromwell was directed by the Hamilton faction. Argyll strongly opposed the enterprise of leading an army into England, and when it was decided on excused himself from accompanying it on account of the illness of his lady. After the disaster at Worcester on 3 Sept. he defended himself for nearly a year in his castle at Inverary, but in August 1652 was surprised by General Deane, when he gave in his submission, making as usual a very astute bargain. It is generally stated that he absolutely refused to make an unconditional surrender, and only promised to live peaceably under that government, but the exact form of his declaration was as follows: ‘My dewtie to religioun, according to my oath in the covenant, always reserved, I do agrie for the civill pairt that Scotland be maid a Commounwelth with England, that thair be the same governament, without King or Hous of Lordis deryved to the pepill of Scotland, and yit in the meanetyme, quhill this can be practized, I sall leave quyetlie under the Parliament of the Commounwelth of England and thair authoritie’ (Nicoll’s Diary, p. 100). On his making this declaration Deane engaged that he should have his liberty, and his estates, lands, and debts free from sequestration (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655–6, p. 111).

The fall of Argyll was complete and final, and he moreover found that with his power his reputation had vanished like a dream. Up to the time when he entered upon the ill-starred enterprise of recalling Charles II, his statesmanship had been masterly and triumphant. The execution of the king had completely upset his calculations, which had all along been founded on a close union between the parliaments of Scotland and of England. This union was by that event abruptly severed, but the responsibility for the disaster rested not with him but with Cromwell. The results of his safe and prudent policy were ruthlessly annihilated by an act which after events proved to have been a mistake, although the powerful personality of Cromwell was able to turn it into immediate good for England. Argyll lost his presence of mind, and therefore his control of events in this stupendous conjuncture, and became as much a puppet in the hands of contending factions as was Charles II. Consequently, when the scheme for recalling Charles II failed, Argyll was execrated by all parties. ‘He was no less drowned in debt,’ says Baillie, ‘than in public hatred almost of all both Scottish and English’ (Letters and Journals, iii. 387). To the reputation for cowardice which he had gained among his enemies from his conduct on the battle-field was now attached a deeper significance. Even the accidental cast in his vision was now interpreted as indicating a similar blemish in his moral eyesight. Among the hostile highland clans he was long known as ‘Gillespie Grumach,’ Gillespie the ill-favoured, and in the lowlands he was referred to disdainfully as the ‘Glaed-eyed Marquis.’ For the contempt of the outside world he did not find unmingled consolation in the bosom of his family. He was at feud with his own son Lord Lorne [see Campbell, Archibald, ninth Earl of Argyll], then a hot-headed royalist who, much to Argyll’s disrelish, took part in the attempted rising in the highlands in 1653. ‘These differences,’ according to Baillie, were so real as to make ‘both their lives bitter and uncomfortable to them’ (ib. iii. 288), and, indeed, Argyll had actually to ask a garrison to be placed in his house to keep it from his son’s violence. His extreme pecuniary difficulties are graphically illustrated in a passage of Nicoll’s diary recording Argyll’s visit to Dalkeith in November 1654 to complain of his son Lord Lorne to General Monck. ‘At quhich time,’ says Nicoll, ‘he resaved much effrontes and disgraces of his creditors, quha, being frustrat and defraudit be the Marques of thair just and lauchfull dettis, spaired not at all times as he walked, ather in street or in the feildis abroad, [to call him] “a fals traitour.” Besyde this, his hors and hors graith, and all uther household stuff were poyndit at Dalkeith and at Newbottil and brocht into Edinburgh, and thair comprysit at the Mercat Croce for dett’ (Diary, 140). In order to push his suit with the Protector for payment of the money promised him by acts of the Scottish parliament, Argyll in September 1655 arrived in London. While there he was in November arrested at the suit of Elizabeth Maxwell, widow of the Earl of Dirleton, for debt, connected with the supply of meal to the Scots army in 1644–5 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655–6, p. 7), who, however, was ordered to forbear further prosecution of him or of his bail, and to take her remedy in Scotland (ib. p. 34). For the payment of the moneys promised him by the Scottish parliament Argyll pleaded the engagement of Deane guaranteeing him the payment of his debts, and he did obtain a grant on the excise of wines and strong waters, not to exceed 3,000l. a year, till the whole sum due to him, 12,116l. 13s. 4d., should be paid (ib. 1656–7, p. 107). Possibly Argyll had even more ambitious intentions in his visit to London, but if so he was unsuccessful, and indeed was always regarded by Cromwell with suspicion as a royalist at heart. On the incorporation of the Scottish parliament with that of England, he exerted himself in opposition to the council of state to get Scotsmen returned (Letter of Monck to Thurloe, 30 Sept. 1658, Thurloe State Papers, vii. 584). He himself sat as member for Aberdeenshire.

After the Restoration, Argyll, on 8 July 1660, presented himself in the presence chamber at Whitehall to pay his respects to the king; but on asking for an interview instructions were given by Charles II for his apprehension, and he was committed to the Tower. For once in his life he had acted precipitately, and his rashness was fatal. Early in December he was sent to Edinburgh by sea for trial, on charges of compliance with the usurpation and of treasonable acts committed since 1638. The accusation embraced fourteen counts, the most serious being that of having been accessory to the death of Charles I.; and the trial, which was presided over by his inveterate enemy, the Earl of Middleton, lord high commissioner, continued through March and April. On the main count he was declared guiltless by a large majority (Burnet’s Own Time, i. 124), but after the evidence had been closed and a complete acquittal seemed probable, a despatch arrived from Monck containing private letters of Argyll showing that he had been ‘hearty and zealous on the side of the usurpation.’ The reading of them, according to Burnet, silenced further debate (ib i. 125); but if they were sent, which is doubtful, as they are not mentioned by any one by Burnet, their exact purport cannot be ascertained, all the record of evidence against him having been destroyed after the trial. According to Burnet he made an attempt to escape out of the castle by pretending illness and endeavouring to pass for his wife, who took his place on the sickbed, but his heart failed as he was about to step into her chair in disguise (ib i. 124). He was beheaded with the maiden at the cross of Edinburgh on 27 May 1661. The serenity with which he met his fate greatly surprised those who had given him credit for abject personal cowardice. While taking his last meal with his friends at twelve o’clock he comported himself with unaffected cheerfulness, and on the scaffold he addressed the crowd with dignified composure in a solemn and temperate speech about half an hour in duration. Cunningham, his physician, told Burnet that on touching his pulse he found it to ‘beat at the usual rate clear and strong,’ and as an evidence that his self-possession was internal and thorough it was noted on opening his body that the partridge he had eaten at dinner had been completely digested (‘Anecdotes of the Marquis of Argyll,’ by the Rev. Robert Wodrow, in Argyll Papers, 1834, p. 12). Among the royalists his bearing on the scaffold caused much perplexity, but they seem to have inclined to the opinion that it disproved his cowardice, but showed his hypocrisy. The Earl of Crawford, convinced that Argyll’s conduct on the occasion of a duel arranged between them at Musselburgh in August 1648 (see Balfour’s Annals, iii. 395) could only be accounted for by his being ‘naturally a very great coward,’ stoutly contested the proposition of Middleton that Argyll’s ‘soul was in hell,’ asserting that such resolution as he showed on the scaffold must have been due to ‘some supernatural assistance; he was sure it was not his natural temper’ (Burnet’s Own Time, i. 126). The day before his execution Argyll wrote a letter to the king justifying his intentions in all his conduct towards him in regard to the covenant (see copy in Wodrow’s History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, i. 54), and his last words on the scaffold were, ‘I am free from any accession by knowledge, contriving, counsel, or any other way to his late majesty’s death.’ His body was carried to St. Magdalene Chapel in the Cowgate, thence to Newbattle Abbey, and after a few weeks to the burial-place of the family on the Holy Loch. His head was exposed on the west end of the Tolbooth, on the same spike previously occupied by that of Montrose; but in May 1664 there came ‘a letter from the king to the council, commanding them to take down Argyll’s head that it might be buried with his body, which was done quietly in the night time’ (Life of Robert Blair, p. 469). The public hatred with which Argyll had been regarded in his later years was, says Laing, ‘converted into general commiseration at his death. His attainder was justly imputed to the enmity, his precipitate death to the impatience and the insatiable desire of Middleton to procure a gift of his title and estates; and, as it generally happens whensoever a statesman suffers, whether from natural justice or revenge, his execution served to exalt and to relieve his character from the obloquy which would have continued to attend him had he been permitted to survive’ (History of Scotland). By his wife Lady Margaret Douglas, second daughter of William, second earl of Morton, he had two sons—the eldest of whom, Archibald, succeeded him as ninth earl—and four daughters. His second son, Niel, of Ardmaddie (d 1693), was father of Archibald Campbell (d 1744) He was the author of ‘Instructions to a Son,’ written during his imprisonment and published at Edinburgh in 1661. To an edition published in 1743 was added ‘General Maxims of Life.’ His speech on ‘Peace’ in 1642 and his speech in London in 1646 were published shortly after they were delivered, as well as his speech at his trial and on the scaffold.

[A general narrative of the events of the period is given in Rushworth’s Historical Collections and in Balfour’s Annals of Scotland. Many references will be found in the Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vols. iv. v. vi. vii., and in the Calendars of the State Papers (Dom. Ser.) during the reign of Charles I and the Commonwealth. The narratives of contemporaries are coloured strongly by party prejudice. They are chiefly Spalding’s Memorials of the Trubles in Scotland and England from 1624 to 1640 (Spalding Club); Memoirs of Bishop Guthry from 1637 to the Death of Charles I; Wishart’s Life of Montrose; Gordon’s Scots Affairs during 1637–41 (Spalding Club); The Life of Robert Blair; Nicoll’s Diary of Public Transactions from January 1650 to June 1667 (Bannatyne Club), and specially Robert Baillie’s Letters and Journals (Bannatyne Club), which throw much light on Argyll’s connection with the kirk. The accounts of Argyll by Burnet in History of his own Times and Lives of the Hamiltons, and by Clarendon in his History of the Rebellion, supply an accurate representation of his reputation among the royalists of the period, which is mirrored in Sir Walter Scott’s portrait of him in the Legend of Montrose. In Whitelocke’s Memorials the references to him are numerous. Letters to or from him and other documents will be found in the Argyll Papers, 1834; Letters to the Argyll Family, 1839; Thurloe State Papers; Strafford’s Letters; Correspondence of the Earls of Ancrum and Lothian; and in the various books on Montrose by Mark Napier, as well as in his Life of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee. The proceedings at his trial, published first in 1661, occupy pp. 1370–1515 of vol. v. of State Trials, but no evidence is given. Biographies include John Willcock’s The Great Marquess, Edinburgh, 1903, besides those in Crawford’s Scottish Peerage, pp. 20–1; Biographia Britannica, ed. Kippis, iii. 178–93; Douglas’s Scottish Peerage, i. 95–100; Chambers’s Eminent Scotsmen (ed. Thomson), i. 277–83; Granger’s Biog. Hist., 2nd ed., iii. 25, 26; and Walpole’s Royal and Noble Authors, ed. Park, v. 103–8. See also Laing’s History of Scotland, Gardiner’s History of England, Macaulay’s History of England, Hill Burton’s History of Scotland, and especially, both for fulness and accuracy, Masson’s Life of Milton.]


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