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Communications for the Grampian Club should be addressed to the Secretary,





1-27-33 AUM


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DURING the spring of 1872, while engaged in the Public Record Office in some important researches, I chanced to discover a small quarto MS. volume, bearing the following inscription: Index of ye Nobility of Scotland in ye Time of James ye First." The volume was in the handwriting of Sir Joseph Williamson, and, though undated, clearly belonged to the period between 1666 and 1701, when the transcriber held office as Keeper of the State Papers. Along with a written narrative concerning the nobility and their several families were descriptions of their armorial escutcheons, partly in French, and other entries of an extraneous and unimportant character.

From internal evidence, hereafter to be noticed, it became evident that Sir Joseph Williamson had transcribed the "Estimate of the Nobility" from another copy which was likely to be found in the public archives. On a careful search in the British Museum, three copies of the "Estimate" were discovered, each varying in orthography, but otherwise substantially alike. Of these, one is included among the Lansdowne MSS. (No. 877), the two others are embraced in the volumes 1423 and 6101 of the Harleian MSS. A fifth copy is deposited in the Lyon Office, Edinburgh.

These several MSS. may be described. The Lansdowne MS., a thin folio, contains masterly tracings of the arms of Scottish peers, including coloured shields of opulent and influential Scotsmen. On the title-page, it bears, in an ornamental border, the name "Joseph Holand," with the date 1585." According to the Rev. Mr Noble, in his "History of the College of Arms,"* Joseph Holland was a native of DevonHistory of the College of Arms," by the Rev. Mark Noble, Lond. 1804, p. 252.

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shire, and was an accomplished herald, genealogist, and antiquary; he was living in 1617. He executed a parchment roll of the nobility and gentry of Devonshire in 1585, which was suspended in the College of Arms; a folio MS. on the same subject being preserved elsewhere. In his "Collection of Curious Discourses," Mr Hearne presents several papers by Joseph Holland. These abound in vague antiquarian speculations, and bear dates between 1598 and 1601. Other compositions by Holland are to be found in the Cottonian Collection. Of the two MSS. in the Harleian Collection, that numbered 6101 bears on the title-page the name and arms of Robert Jermyn, herald painter, with the date 1585. It includes the emblazoned shields of the kings and principal nobility of Scotland. The MS. No. 1423 has on the first page the signature, “Jo. Withie,"† with the date 1606. At page 129 are these words :-"The Scottish Nobilitie in an. dom. 1577, per Alexander Hay, the xxviiith of December 1577." Then follows a description of the nobility, in terms almost precisely identical with those of the other MSS. Thus we discover the name of the original compiler, with the date of production. That date, 1577, is verified in the other copies, each of which contains the following entry :-" James, Erle Morton, now Regent of this land of Scotland, a prudent and politique defender of James ye 6th, and a politique preserver of his country." The Earl of Morton was Regent of Scotland from 1572 to 1581.

The fifth MS. is contained in a small volume belonging to the library of the Lyon Office, Edinburgh. In this volume the accounts of the peers and their families are the same as in the MSS. described; but these are inserted in what had originally been an illuminated book of arms of a somewhat earlier date. This MS. was lately presented to the Lyon

* "Collection of Curious Discourses," by Thomas Hearne, A.M., Oxford, 1720, 8vo.

John Withie was a herald painter in the city of London. His son, "John Withy," followed the same occupation. In the will of this person, registered in Doctors' Commons, and dated 14th August 1677, he mentions his sons Vere and Fauconberge. He was a member of Bridewell Hospital.

Office by Captain Macdonald of Sandside; to that office it probably belonged at a former period.

Alexander Hay, the author or compiler of the "Estimate," was son of Hay of Park, one of the oldest branches of the noble House of Errol. In March 1564 he was nominated by Secretary Maitland, Clerk of the Privy Council; he received from Queen Mary, on the 1st April following, a warrant on the Treasury for payment of £150 Scots as his salary.* As one of the Queen's accusers he accompanied Maitland and the Earl of Murray to York in 1568.† He became director of the Chancery in 1572; and while holding this office, prepared his Estimate." It was doubtless drawn up at the instance and for the information of Lord Burleigh, the astute. minister of Queen Elizabeth. Respecting reports on the condition of the Scottish nobility subsequently prepared for the English court, Sir Walter Scott writes:-"The English princes, since the reign of Henry VIII., had made the important discovery that they could more easily avoid the dangers to be apprehended from Scotland by supporting and encouraging a party within the kingdom itself than by force of arms."

Hay has presented in a succinct form an account of the comparative opulence, and of the connections, inclinations, and dispositions of Scottish nobles. His production is that of a politician rather than of a genealogist. The Earl of Argyle is described as "regal within himself," and as having of his surname and kindred many persons of opulence, whose names are enumerated. The Earls of Angus are set forth as men of great power, and as possessing important kindred. Certain noblemen are described as of religious. tendencies. The Earl of Eglinton, and the Lords Macleod, Glenesk, and Livingston are commended for "good stomach," or valour. The Lords Oliphant are set down as "no orators in their words, nor fools in their deeds.” The revenues possessed by the several Houses are circumstantially related.

Under favour of the ruling minister of Queen Elizabeth, who exercised no ordinary influence among the Protestant # Bishop Keith's Appendix, 174. + Melvill's Memoirs, 205. See postea.

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