JAMES I (1566-1625). King of Scotland, England and Ireland.
Dramatic Letter Signed to his 'richt traist freind' Sir Patrick Vans of Barnbarroch, 1 page 4to (old repairs to the address side), Stirling, 12 October 1585.
Written in lalands Scots desiring that he 'weill and substantiously accumpaneit with your friendis' repair to Crawford Castle in thirty days, to assist the King in an expedition to suppress Lord Maxwell's rebellion in the South West, and railing against Maxwell's insolence, contempts and 'treasonabill proceidingis' ('... We have lang differit to burdene o[u]r subjectis to trauell in persoun for repressing of ye insolence & lang conteinewit rebellioun of ye lord maxwell In hoip to haue settellit yt disordour before now. Bot finding his C[on]tempt incressing and our gude subjectis eweist ye West bordour havellie opprest be his treason[abi]ll proceidingis, and yt maist vnthankfulie be ye assistance of o[u]r declarit trayt[ouri]s and rebellis expellit furthe of o[u]r realme & the brokkin men & thevis of the bordouris, he intendis ye further trouble of o[u]r estate, We intend godwilling to p[ro]per persoun to repair to ye bourdis sa lang disorderit ... Quhairfoir we desyre yow [e]ffectuously that ye, weill and substantiously accumpaneit with yo[u]r freindes tennentis & servandis ... addres yow to us at crauforde castell...').
The young James, at the commencement of his reign, isolated in Stirling Castle, appeals for help in quashing the 'lang conteinewit rebellioun.' To a degree this fresh rebellion was a re-staging of the coup known as the Ruthven Raid. This time the leader was John Maxwell, seventh Baron Maxwell (1553-1593), 'a nobleman of great spirit ... but aspiring and ambitious of rule' (Spotiswood), who was frequently at odds with the monarch. At the beginning of 1585, he incurred the particular displeasure of the King's favourite, the Earl of Arran, by refusing to agree to an exchange of land with him. on 26 February Maxwell was again denounced as a rebel, and his newly-granted earldom of Morton was revoked. At the head of a force of 8,000 men, including the lords exiled after the Ruthven Raid, and mostly comprising Borderers ('brokkin men and thevis'), Maxwell sought vengeance on the Earl of Arran, who was with the King at Stirling and at the same time stole all the horses he could there. In December Maxwell submitted himself for trial and having been released by the King left the country, returning in April without the King's licence. In 1593 he was slain in an encounter with forces under the command of the laird of Johnstone.
If Sir Patrick Vans did succeed in raising a force, the intended campaign never took place, nor was he in time to prevent Maxwell reaching Stirling. Maxwell took possession of the castle on 1 November, drove Arran from power, and extracted an Act of Indemnity from the King for himself and all his servants for all their actions within Scotland since 1569.
Sir Patrick Vans (or Waus) was indeed one of James's trustiest friends. Admitted to the Privy Council in 1587, in the same year that he was sent by James to arrange James's marriage to Anne of Denmark, he went with the King two year's later as a witness at the marriage. He is proposed as the likely hero of the ballad 'Sir Patrick Spens' by the Dictionary of National Biography, but apart from the similarity of a voyage involving a Scandinavian bride, there seems nothing to connect him with the much earlier ballad. The present letter was published, not entirely accurately, by Robert Vans Agnew, Correspondence of Sir Patrick Waus of Barnbarroch, Knight, Edinburgh, 1887, i. page 336).
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