Sunday, January 23, 2011

First Assassination by Gunshot

In January 1570, per Rampant Scotland, the 23rd, James Stewart, the Regent Moray, was assassinated.  The assassin, James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, shot Moray from a window.  This murder is the first recorded assassination by gunshot.  Hamilton was a supporter of Mary Queen of Scots.  Moray had been made regent on Mary's abdication of the throne.

In Frank Taylor's biography of "Regent Moray", he raises a question about Moray's end: ' Did Moray wish for the end? It is said that, though he was forewarned of Bothwellhaugh's preparations, he refused to institute a search. It is certain that he knew his peril, and yet neglected the most ordinary measures of precaution. He was never the man to risk his life without a cause, much less to fling it away in mere bravado. It may well be that he courted death, not because he was weary of living, but because he shrank from the future. Sooner or later he would be forced to deal with the occupants of the Castle, the struggle would be protracted and severe, in the event, the extreme penalty would be demanded and, with or without his consent, exacted. It may well be that he had some prescience of the day, when to sustain the mantic reputation of Knox, the foremost soldier of the Scottish Reformation would be hanged in the Grassmarket, and the brilliant Lethington driven "to end his life after the old Roman fashion." Already he had sacrificed a sister's love and an ancient friendship on the altar of his country. Who shall say that he was wholly satisfied in his own conscience of having done the right? At any rate, if he had steeled his heart against the loss of friends, he had not steeled it for their destruction. Two waves he had breasted, but he could not face the third. Suicide is ever a form of cowardice, yet that is a noble cowardice which prompts a man to lay down his life for a friend. If there be any truth in this surmise, what was said of Moray's voluntary exile after the murder of Darnley acquires a deeper and sadder meaning when applied to his own assassination. He was seeking death when it found him, "for he saw troubles breeding, in which he loved not to have a hand."...'

Sir Walter Scott was aware of the plot against Moray.  Not Scott the author, of course, but Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch.  According to the 'Dictionary of National Biography" by Sir Sidney Lee, 'SCOTT, WALTER, first Lord Scott OF Buccleuch (1565-1611), born in 1565, was the only son of Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch (d. 1574), by his wife, Lady Margaret Douglas, eldest daughter of David, seventh earl of Angus, who afterwards married Francis Stewart Hepburn, fifth earl of Bothwell. The father, who latterly became a devoted adherent of Mary Queen of Scots, was privy to the design for the assassination of the regent Moray, and, counting on its occurrence, set out the day before with Ker of Ferniehirst on a devastating raid into England. In revenge his lands were laid waste by the Earl of Sussex and Lord Scrope, and his castle of Branxholm blown up with gunpowder. He was a principal leader of the raid to Stirling on 4 Sept. 1571, when an attempt was made to seize the regent Lennox, who was slain by one of the Hamiltons during the melee. Buccleuch, who had interposed to save the regent Morton, his kinsman, whom the Hamiltons intended also to have slain, was during the retreat taken prisoner by Morton (Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 248), and was for some time confined in the castle of Doune in Menteith (Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 156).'

No comments:

Post a Comment