Boyd, Robert

, a nobleman of Scotland, of whose early years we have no account, began to make a figure in public life towards the end of the reign of James II. of Scotland. Being a man of great penetration and sound judgment, courteous and affable, he acquired the esteem and confidence of all ranks of people, as well as of his prince, who created him a baron by the title of lord Boyd, of Kilmarnock. In 1459, he was, with several other noblemen, sent to Newcastle, with the character of plenipotentiary, to prolong the truce with England, which had just fhen expired. On the death of James II. who was killed at the siege of Roxburgh, lord Boyd was made justiciary, and one of the lords of the regency, in whose hands the administration was lodged during the minority of the young king. His lordship had a younger brother who had received the honour of knighthood, sir Alexander Boyd of Duncow, a man in great credit with the king, whom he was appointed to teach the rudiments of military discipline; and between them, the two brothers found means to engross most of the places and preferments about the court. Sir Alexander began to instil into the young king, then twelve years old, that he was now capable of governing without the help of guardians and tutors, and | that he might free himself from their restraint. This advice was readily listened to, and the ting resolved to take upon himself the government, which, however, was no other than transferring the whole power, from the other regents, to the Boyds. The king was at this time at Linlithgow, and it was necessary to remove him to Edinburgh, to take upon him the regal government, which the Boyds effected, partly by force, and partly by stratagem. Haying got the king- to Edinburgh, lord Boyd began to provide for his own safety, and to avert the danger which, threatened him and his friends, for what they had done in the face of an act of parliament; and accordingly prevailed upon the king to call a parliament at Edinburgh, in October 1466; in which lord Boyd fell down upon his knees before the throne, where the king sat, and in an elaborate harangue, complained of the hard construction put upon the king’s removal from Linlithgow, and how ill this was interpreted by his enemies, who threatened that the advisers of that affair should one day suffer punishment; humbly beseeching his majesty to declare his own sense and pleasure thereupon, and that if he conceived any illwill or disgust against him for that journey, that he would openly declare it. The king, after advising a little with the lords, made answer, that the lord Boyd was not his adviser, but rather his companion in that journey; and therefore that he was more worthy of a reward for his courtesy, than of punishment for his obsequiousness or compliance therein; and this he was willing to declare in a public decree of the estates, and in the same decree provision should be made, that this matter should never be prejudicial to the lord Boyd or his companions. His lordship then desired, that this decree might be registered in the acts of the assembly, and confirmed by letters patent under the great seal, which was also complied with. At the same time also the king, by advice of his council, gave him letters patent, whereby he was constituted sole regent, and had the safety of the king, his brothers, sisters, towns, castles, and all the jurisdiction over his subjects, committed to him, till the king himself arrived to the age of twenty-one years. And the nobles then present solemnly promised to be assistant to the lord Boyd, and also to his brother, in all their public actions, and that they would be liable to punishment, if they did not carefully, and with faithfulness, perform what they then promised, | to which stipulation the king also subscribed. Lord Boyd next contrived to be made Jord great chamberlain, and after this had the boldness to procure the lady Mary Stewart, the late king’s eldest daughter, in marriage for his son sir Thomas Boyd, notwithstanding the care and precaution of the parliament. The lord Boyd’s son was a most accomplished gentleman, and this match and near alliance to the crown, added to his own distinguished merit, raised him to a nearer place in the affection as well as confidence of his sovereign, by whom he was soon after created earl of Arran, and was now himself considered as the fountain from whence all honours and preferments must flow. The lord chamberlain, by this great accession of honour to his family, seemed to have arrived at the highest pinnacle of power and grandeur; but what seemed to establish his power, proved the very means of its overthrow. About this time, a marriage having been concluded, by ambassadors sent into Denmark for that purpose, between the young king of Scotland, and Margaret, a daughter of the king of Denmark, the earl of Arran was selected to go over to Denmark, to espouse the Danish princess in the king his brother-in-law’s name, and to conduct her to Scotland. The earl of Arran, judging all things safe at home, willingly accepted this honour; and, in the beginning of the autumn of 1469, set sail for Denmark with a proper convoy, and a noble train of friends and followers. This was, however, a fatal step, for the lord chamberlain, the earl’s father, being now much absent from the court in the necessary discharge of his office, as well as through age and infirmities, which was the case also of his brother sir Alexander Boyd; the earl of Arran had no sooner set out on his embassy, than every endeavour was tried to alienate the king’s affection from the Boyds. Every public miscarriage was laid at their door; and the Kennedies, their ancient enemies, industriously spread abroad reports, to inflame the people likewise against them. They represented to the king, that the lord Boyd had abused his power during his majesty’s minority; that his matching his son, the earl of Arran, with the princess Mary, was staining the royal blood of Scotland, was an indignity to the crown, and the prelude to the execution of a plot they had contrived of usurping even the sovereignty itself; for they represented the lord chamberlain as an ambitious, aspiring man, guilty of the highest offences, and capable of | contriving and executing the worst of villanies: with what justice, history does not inform us. Buchanan only says the Boyds were the occasion of the king’s degeneracy into all manner of licentiousness, by their indulgence of his pleasures. The king, however, young, weak, credulous, and wavering, and naturally prone to jealousy, began to be alarmed, and was prevailed on to sacrifice, not only the earl of Arran, but all his family, to the resentment of their enemies, notwithstanding their ancestors’ great services to the crown, and in spite of the ties of blood which united them so closely. At the request of the adverse faction, the king summoned a parliament to meet at Edinburgh, the 20th of November, 1469, before which lord Boyd, the earl of Arran, though in Denmark, and sir Alexander Boyd of Duncow, were summoned to appear, to give an account of their administration, and answer such charges as should be exhibited against them. Lord Boyd, astonished at this sudden blow, betook himself to arms; but, finding it im-r possible to stem the torrent, made his escape into England; but his brother, sir Alexander, being then sick, and trusting to his own integrity, was brought before the parliament, where he, the lord Boyd, and his son the earl of Arran, were indicted of high-treason, for having laid hands on the king, and carried him, against an act of parliament, and contrary to the king’s own will, from Linlithgow to Edinburgh, in 1466. Sir Alexander alleged in his defence, that they had not only obtained the king’s pardon for that’offence in a public convention, but it was even declared a good service by a subsequent act of parliament; but no regard was had to this, because it was obtained by the Boyds when in power, and masters of the king’s person: and the crime being proved against them, they were found guilty by a jury of lords and barons; and sir Alexander Boyd, being present, was condemned to lose his head on the Castle-hill of Edinburgh, which sentence was executed accordingly. The lord Boyd would have undergone the same fate, if he had not inade his escape into England, where, however, he did not long survive his great reverse of fortune, dying at Alnwick in 1470. The earl of Arran, though absent upon public business, was declared a public enemy, without being granted a hearing, or allowed the privilege of defending himself, and his estates confiscated. Things were in this situation, when he arrived from Denmark, with the espoused queen, in the | Frith of Forth. Before he landed he received intelligence of the wreck and ruin of his family, and resolved to retire into Denmark; and without staying to attend the ceremonial of the queen’s landing, he took the opportunity of one of those Danish ships which convoyed the queen, and were under his command, and embarking his lady, set sail for Denmark, where he met with a reception suitable to his high birth. From thence he travelled through Germany into France, and went to pay a visit to Charles duke of Burgundy, who received him most graciously, and being then at war with his rebellious subjects, the unfortunate lord offered him his service, which the duke readily accepted, and finding him to be a brave and wise man, he honoured and supported him and his lady, in a manner becoming their rank. But the king their brother, not yet satisfied with the miseries of their family, wrote over to Flanders to recal his sister home; and fearing she would not be induced to leave him, he caused others to write to her, and give her hopes that his anger towards her husband might be appeased, and that if she would come over and plead for him in person, there was no doubt but she might prevail with her brother to restore him again to his favour. The countess of Arran, flattered with these hopes, returned, and was no sooner arrived in Scotland, than the king urged her to a divorce from her husband, cruelly detained her from going back to him, and caused public citations, attested by witnesses, to be fixed up at Kilmarnock, the seat of the Boyds, wherein Thomas earl of Arran was commanded to appear in sixty days, which he not doing, his marriage with the king’s sister was declared null and void, and a divorce made (according to Buchanan), the earl still absent and unheard; and the lady Mary was compelled, by the king, to marry James lord Hamilton, a man much inferior to her former husband both in point of birth and fortune. This transaction was in 1474 j and the earl of Arran, now in the last stage of his miseries, and borne down with the heavy load of his misfortunes, soon al’ter, died at Antwerp, and was honourably interred there. The character of him and of his father is variously represented. That they were ambitious, and regardless of the means of gratifying that ambition, cannot well be denied, nor are we permitted to censure with great asperity their enemies who effected their ruin by similar measures and with similar motives. Their fall undoubtedly holds out an useful | lesson, but the experience of others, especially of examples in history, seldom checks the progress of that ambition that has once commenced in success. 1

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Biog. Brit.