Armstrongs

Who’s Who in the Kinmont Rescue … and why

Despite Scrope’s initial insistence that there were 500 riders,  the actual number was much lower. Eure, writing to Elizabeth I, informed her of his estimate  – “not fouertie as I here”.

No doubt there were many others involved, besides the riders: those Grahams with whom Buccleuch had met with and had assured safe passage from, and even the Laird of Johnstone, and the Goodman of Bonshaw (Irwen/Irvine of Bonshaw) were part of the rescue:

the Lairde of Johnston laye with an ambushment in one place and the Goodman of Bonshawe with an other, on the paile of Scotland, to have given defence to there owne and resisted the pursuers, if any had followed so farre.

 

According to an informant, Richie’s Will (a Graham who was part of the rescue party), the following men were involved:


Scotts

The Laird of Buccleuch, Walter Scott of Buccleuch (The Bauld Buccleuch)

(The informant says Buccleuch brought 24 Scott and Elliots)

Walter Scott of Goldelandes

Walter Scott of Hardinge (Wat of Harden)

Walter Scott of Branxholme

–– Scot named Todrigges

Elliots

Will Ellott, goodman of Gorrombye

John Eliott called “of the Copshawe”

Armstrongs

the Laird of Mangerton

the young Laird of Whithaugh and his son

(they brought 8 men)

three of the Calfhills, Jocke, Bighames, and one Ally, a bastard

Sandy Armestronge, son to Hebbye

(Hobb’s Sandy brought 2 men with him)

Kinmont’s Jocke, Francie, Geordy, and Sandye, all bretheren, the sons of Kinmont

(4 of Kinmont’s men also attended)

three bretheren of Tweda, Armstrongs

Young John of the Hollace and one of his brethren (Kirste)

 Christie of Barneglish and Roby of the Langholm

The Chingles

Irvines

 Willie ‘Kange’ and his brethren with their “complices.”

Bells

Willie “Redcloake” Bell, and two of his brothers, John and Rob

(John Bell’s horse “tireit” and he stayed at Fergus the Plump’s overnight)

Walter Bell of Godesby

Grahams

Andrew Graham, brother-in-law of Will of Kinmont was involved, as was one Hutcheon Graham, who may have been Kinmont’s father-in-law.

Ritchie of Brackenhill, Willie of the Rosetrees, Fergus the Plump – all Grahams – were also involved

Family loyalty and  bonds of loyalty were important to this rescue. An informant informed Scrope that Thomas Carleton, who had been discharged from his station in Carlisle Castle, had a hand in the scheme, as did Geordie’s Sandy Graham, who aided Buccleuch’s safe journey, due to the fact that Carleton was his brother-in-law;  Willie ‘Redcloak” Bell “did nothinge but that Richey of Brakonhill caused him to doe”, and  was the nephew of  Willie of the Rosetrees: and Willie ‘Kang’ was “Buckclughes owne man”.

Rescue and Release

On the night of 13th/14th April, in the “deade time”  William Armstrong of Kinmont was rescued from the apparently impregnable Carlisle Castle.

The weather that night was foul, many of the guard took shelter from “the violence of the wether”. Others, who had held office within the castle,  Thomas Carlton and his brother Lancelot, were in league with the rescuers.

Walter Scott of Buccleuch, the Bauld Buccleuch, seems to have been the mastermind, and the leader of the rescue.  Indeed, he was in the van – the fifth man in – , and was seen in the castle’s courtyard.

Thomas Scrope’s worst nightmares had been realised, and he had the unenviable task of reporting the audacious rescue to Elizabeth’s Court … it is not wonder, perhaps, that he seems to have exaggerated the numbers involved:

500 horsemen of Buclughes and Kinmontes frendes, did come armed and

appointed with gavlockes and crowes of iron, handpeckes, axes and skaillinge

lathers, unto an owtewarde corner of the base courtof this castell, and to

the posterne dore of the samewhich they undermyned speedily and

quietlye and made them selves possessores of the base courte, brake into the

chamber where Will of Kinmont was, carried him awaye, and in their discoverie

by the watch, lefte for deade two of the watchmen, hurt a servante of

myne one of Kynmontes keperes, and were issued againe onte of the posterne

before they were discried by the watche of the innerwarde, and ere resistance

could be made. The watch, as yt shoulde seeme, by reason of the stormiye

night, were either on sleepe or gotten under some covert to defende them

selves from the violence of the wether; by meanes wherof the Scottes

atcheived theire entreprise with lesse difficultie.

Scrope to the Privy Council

(Original image: Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)

Plans are afoot, come wind, come weet

Looking out on a particularly dismal Easter Sunday this year, the occasional driving rain reminds me that some 420 years ago, similar weather was about to play an important part in one of the most audacious acts – and there are many to count – ever undertaken on the Scottish Borders.

But let the scene be set …

On the 17th March 1596, a day of truce was set between the English Middle March, which was under the Wardenship of Thomas Scrope and the Keeper of Liddesdale (Walter Scott of Buccleuch), to try to settle a matter of “redress and delivery” regarding an “offender” wanted by Buccleuch. Neither Scrope nor Buccleuch were present in person, it seems.

The matter had been delayed, according to Scrope because Buccleuch also wanted the “accessarie” handed over, but this was a man who whom Buccleuch “bore malice”, and so the process had been delayed and postponed. On the 17th March, however, the meeting was set, but Buccleuch refused to keep to the terms of truce. Buccleuch had good reason.

That was the day that William Armstrong of Kinmont also known as Will of Kynmonth, was taken and brought into Scrope’s jurisdiction. Scrope was at pains to explain his own men’s actions, knowing that the contentious matter of Border Truce could render the taking of a man, protected under laws of a Truce Day an illegal act. He stated that Armstrong had broken the truce himself, and therefore it was right that he should be punished; that he was an enemy of the Wardenship (something which should not be argued, but he was still under the laws of Truce); that his followers had committed recent raids; that Buccleuch’s jurisdiction and protection did not apply to Kinmont, as he lived outwith the bounds of Liddesdale; and where he was taken was ‘beyond the limits’ of Buccleuch’s ‘charge’ …  Scrope knew what had occurred was contentious:

 

How Kynmont was taken will appear by the copy of the attestation by his takers, which if true, it is held that Kynmont did thereby breake th’assurance that daye taken, and for his offences ought to be delivered to the officer against whom he had offended, to be punished according to discreation.” Another reason for detaining him is his notorious enmity to this office, and the many outrages lately done by his followers. He appertains not to Buccleuch, but dwells out of his office, and was also taken beyond the limits of his charge, so Buccleuch makes the matter a mere pretext to defer justice and do “further indignities.”
The above day for redress and delivery was the 17th of this month—which night Kynmont was taken and brought here, where I detain him, thinking it best to do so till good security be given for better behaviour of him and his in time coming, and recompense of damages lately done to the people here.

So wrote Scrope to Burghley, on the 18th March 1596. He could not have dreamt, during his most restless nights (of which we must suspect there were many), what was already being plotted against him.