Warden’s meetings

What’s legal and what’s not …

… the debate snarled on, with Scrope arguing Kinmont that was a notorious reiver, and trying to promote the idea that any opportunity to apprehend such an individual should be an opportunity taken: the Border Law, however, was not so flexible – after all, there had to be politic measure to ensure any cross-border negotiation and legal proceedings could take place on a local scale. Ralph Eure, experienced in Border affairs, explained the situation to Lord Burghley to clarify matters on 19th  June 1596 …

In answer to your inquiry–Whether at a day of truce, the peace endures from sunrise that day to sunrise of next day, or only till sunset of the day of truce, and whether a subject of either realm can enter the other to recover goods during the truce? It is usual for both wardens to agree at their meeting for a truce to begin and endure while the business in hand requires. By the words of the treaty in her Majesty’s time, they are not by custom to be limited “from sonne to sonne,” except specially agreed between them. Therefore usually when they remain but one day, they take assurance from sunrise of the one day till sunrise of the next, that every man may likely be returned safe to his dwelling as he came to the place of meeting.  Therefore this question between Lord Scrope’s deputies and the laird of Buccleuch’s will be decided according to their assurance. If “general”, it includes both safety of goods and men, and all actions tending to breach of peace. Therefore “me thinkes” it agrees with the law of treaty that in either of their governments, the wardens shall take general assurance “for all the March left att home as for the companie then in present, and if anie offence be committed to the breache thereof of eyther partie, it is commonlie tearmed  to be under assurance, and so held hateful and unlawfull.”  This question of Lord Scrope for Kinmonthe may arise with any other warden, and your lordship may now take occasion to prevent future “harmes”. Lord Scrope by his assurance, is “tyed in honor” to answer for his whole March – Buccleuch for his office only, an unequal assurance. If any, either of the west or east of his office, with whom Buccleuch is in kindness, do ride, his assurance is not broken, yet the warden in whose wardenry such acts are committed is justly moved to revenge. So if your lordship would hold that warden should answer warden only, not an officer, and for the like circuit, or else that the opposite warden should at least grant assurance for the whole March, for the time agreed by the officer.

Eure to Burghley June 19th 1596 (Calendar of Border Papers II: 138)

Buccleuch is referred to as an ‘officer’, as the Keeper of Liddesdale was not a Warden, and was not considered to have equal standing … something perhaps best never brought up directly in the presence of Buccleugh – or indeed that of other Keepers – given the relentlessly unruly nature of the place.

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.)

Horse Racing: the Buccleuch method

On this day, 1596, Buccleuch arranged a horse race, which took place at Ewes Water.

We should remember, that this 101 years before The Byerley Turk was set to stud, 118 years before Flying Childers (who remained undefeated in his racing career) was sired by the Darley Arabian, and 135 years before The Godolphin Arabian first proved his bloodline with his first offspring Lath. The horses which were raced at Ewes Water, then, had none of the Thoroughbred genes – Thoroughbreds as a breed had yet to be created.

Instead, these horses may have been some of the hobbyes, mentioned by Carey in his Memoirs, and if we even pause to dismiss the event as being, perhaps, of little merit therefore, we should recall that in Cavelarice, or The English Horseman: Contayning all the Art of Horse-manship, as much as is Necessary for any Man to Understand the author, Gervase Markham, noted:

… when the best Barbaries that ever were in my remembrance were in their prime, I saw them overrunne by a black hobbie at Salesburie of Master Carlton’s …

However, the prime concern may not have been the speed of the horses.

Buccleuch was in conversation with other attendees, notably the Grahams. He was making last minute arrangements for a matter he had to attend to, with others, later that day, assuring that he had clear passage through the English Grahams’ lands “without shout or hindrance” as Scrope would describe it in the coming days.

 

But surely, a horse race meeting is merely a horse race …?

Outmanoeuvring the enemy

“The Raid of the Reidswire” is an often overlooked ballad, which Scott included in The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. It recounts the events of the 7th July 1575 at the Redeswire, where a run-of-the-mill Warden’s meeting degenerated into a battle. It is more frequently referred to as a skirmish, as the two sides did not meet with the intention of engaging in pitched battle. The Scots won the day, but the weapons each side had brought to the meeting were telling in terms of effectiveness: the English had their feared bows, but the Scots are armed with guns – “but we had pisolets enough” remarks the ballad. All of this set the thought processes on a slightly different trajectory. Even with the relatively low level of casualties at the Redeswire,  the flash and fire of the pistols must have come as a dreadful shock to the English opponents. The English archers, of course, had their glory at Crecy, with the lightly equipped and often low-born archers decimating the flower of French knights. I considered, then, what I would consider the most impressive and terrifying force, before the era of long-range missiles and modern warfare. There are many, of course, to consider. polish winged hussar

Those Crecy archers, Rome’s legions (or perhaps those guerilla troops who tracked and slaughtered Varus’s legions in the dark forest of Germany) are certainly more than worthy of consideration ,  but for my part, those elite winged hussars of Poland strike me as being some of the most impressive of the last 1000 years. There is much speculation regarding those fine wings  and effectiveness in warfare, but goodness, to be faced by an onslaught of galloping horses, lowered lances, thrumming banners, and mounted men, it seems, with wings rising from their backs – I cannot recall another charge – not even that of the Scots Greys – which may have surpassed it in visual and auditory impact.