The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 13
The first step of the insurgents was to occupy the city of Durham. So insignificant was their number at this moment, that only sixty horsemen followed the banner of the two earls. But their appeals to rise and defend their ancient faith found a strong response. Mass was celebrated in the cathedral before some thousands of people, who tore up the English Bible, and destroyed the communion table. They then, continually increasing in numbers, marched through Staindrop, Darlington, Richmond, and Ripon, everywhere turning out the apparatus of the Reformed worship from the churches, and Reinstating the ancient ritual.
They proceeded as far as Branham Moor, where they mustered their forces, or, as some say, on Clifford Moor, near Wetherby, where their forces were found to amount to 1,700 horse, and something less than 4,000 foot, but many of them badly armed. The earls, who were famous for their hospitality, had but little ready money; Northumberland bringing only 8,000 crowns, and Westmoreland nothing at all. The Roman Catholics did not rise in their favour, as they had calculated. The insurgents had sent to the Spanish ambassador, soliciting his aid, but he referred them to the Duke of Alva, and the duke waited for orders from Philip. Their aid not arriving cast a damp on the Romanists, who now, doubting of the expedition, lay still, or went over to the Royal army under the Earl of Sussex. To add to their confusion, 800 horse, whom they had dispatched to secure the Queen of Scots at Tutbury, returned with the news that she was removed thence to Coventry. They were confounded by this intelligence, and still more by the rumours of the numerous forces raising under Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, and the Lord-Admiral, whilst Lord Hunsdon from Berwick was hastening down upon them with his garrison and Royalists from the borders.
Dissension now began to appear in their ranks and amongst the leaders. The Earl of Westmoreland, who at first was the most daring, now began to hesitate; and Northumberland, who was, in a manner, dragged into the rising, on the contrary, counselled bold measures, as they had committed themselves. The result, however, was that they retreated to the Earl of Westmoreland's castle of Branspeth. They there issued a new manifesto; and as the Papists had not come forward as they expected, they now dropped the argument of religion, and took up the plea that there was a determination at Court to exercise arbitrary power over the lives and liberties of the subject, and that it was necessary to drive from her Majesty's counsels the persons who gave her pernicious advice.
But this retreat had shaken the confidence of the public; and the different noblemen to whom they sent messengers followed the example of the Earl of Derby, and arrested them and sent them to the queen. The measures on the part of Elizabeth's Government were active and effectual Orders were issued to muster a large army in the south, The Earl of Bedford was dispatched to maintain quiet in Wales, A regiment of well-disciplined troops were marched from the Isle of Wight to defend the person of the sovereign, and suspected persons were arrested. To prevent any communication with the foreign princes, the mail-bags of the Spanish and French ambassadors were stopped and examined. Leicester entreated to be sent against the rebels, but Elizabeth would not risk his precious life, and kept him near her as her chief adviser, Cecil being indisposed.
The patience of Elizabeth was greatly tried by the cautious delay of the Earl of Sussex, who was "her commander in the north, and especially as his procrastination allowed the two earls to besiege Sir George Bowes in Barnard Castle for eleven days, which then opened its gates. There were even insinuations that Sussex was in secret league with the rebel earls. On the approach of the army of the Earl of Warwick, 12,000 in number, the insurgents held a council at Durham, on the 16th of December; but dissension again broke out betwixt Westmoreland and Northumberland to such a degree that the forces scattered, and the enterprise was at an end. The foot got away to their homes, and the earls fled across the border with 500 horse.
Elizabeth, who is characteristically represented, in the fine old ballad of "The Rising of the North," as swearing stoutly on the first news of this rising -
"Her grace she turned her round about,
now demanded the surrender of the fugitives. Murray, by bribes and menaces, induced Hector Armstrong of Harlow, with whom Northumberland had sought refuge, to give him up; but Murray did not dare to send his captive to England, but shut him up in Mary's old prison, the castle of Lochleven, where he continued till 1572, when Morton, having become regent, surrendered him to Lord Hunsdon, at Berwick, when he was sent to York and executed. Westmoreland escaped to Flanders. The Countess of Northumberland, Ratcliffe, Markenfield, Swinburn, Tempest, and other exiles continued safe amongst the border clans of Hume, Scot, Carr, Maxwell, and Johnstone. The brave old Norton, who bore the banner of his house, which displayed "the cross, 'And the five wounds our Lord did bear,'"
surrounded by his nine gallant sons, is said by the old ballad, which has been followed by Wordsworth in "The White Doe of Rylstone," to have fallen: -
"Thee, Norton, with thine eight good sons,
Francis, the eldest son, who refused to fight against his sovereign, is represented as being killed in endeavouring to rescue the family banner. Other authorities, however, assert that Norton escaped into Scotland with the rest. In England no severity was spared in punishing the fallen insurgents. Those who possessed property were reserved for trial in the courts, to secure the forfeiture of their estates. These, and the fugitives together, amounted to fifty-seven noblemen, gentlemen, and freeholders, so that their wealth would form a good fund for the payment of the expenses of the campaign, and the reward of the officers and soldiers. On the poorer class Sussex let loose his vengeance with a fury which was intended to convince Elizabeth of his before-questioned loyalty. In the county of Durham he put to death more than 300 individuals, hanging at Durham at one time sixty-three constables; and Sir George Bowes made his boast that, for sixty miles in length, and fifty in breadth, betwixt Newcastle and Wetherby, there was hardly a town or village in which he did not gibbet some of the inhabitants as a warning to the rest; a cruelty, says Bishop Percy, "which exceeds that practised in the west after Monmouth's rebellion; but this was not the age of tenderness or humanity." Sussex, in writing to Cecil, says, "I gesse it will not be under six or seven hundred at leaste of the common sort that shall be executed, besides the prisoners taken in the field."
When the vengeance was completed, Elizabeth issued a proclamation that all others should be pardoned who came in and took the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. She declared that she was accused of persecuting for religious opinion, but she denied that, affirming that she should molest no one for their religious sentiments, provided they did not gainsay the Scriptures, nor the creed apostolic and catholic; or for their practice, so long as they outwardly conformed to the laws of the realm, and attended regularly the divine service in the ordinary churches, as by statute required.
No one who went out on this expedition acted a stranger part than Leonard Dacres, the head of the house of Gillsland. He was deep in the plots for the restoration of Mary, but at the time of the "rising of the north," he was at the Court of Elizabeth, gathering all the information of affairs that he could. On the outbreak taking place, he hurried to the north, on the pretence of mustering forces for Elizabeth, but in reality for Mary. But, on his arrival, the rebel army was in full retreat from Hexham to Naworth on its way to Scotland, Adroitly calling out his retainers, he pursued his flying friends, and made a number of prisoners, by which he acquired much reputation for his loyalty amongst his neighbours, who were greatly amazed to find, soon after, the Earl of Sussex attempting to arrest him, the Council in London being much better acquainted with his real character than those about him. He then turned about, and on the 20th of February, 1570, sent a defiance to Lord Hunsdon from Naworth Castle. After a bloody skirmish on the banks of the Chelt, the Dacres were defeated, and Leonard fleeing, secured himself first in Scotland, and afterwards in Flanders.
This escapade of the Dacres is supposed to have been excited or encouraged by an event which had just taken place in Scotland - the murder of the regent Murray. The regent, finding that there would never be any rest for either England or Scotland whilst the Queen of Scots was detained in her unjust captivity, entered into serious negotiations with Elizabeth, to have her surrendered to his own custody, when it would have been in his power to get rid of her on some pretence. Knox, in no equivocal language, in a letter to Cecil which still remains, had recommended her being put out of the way, telling him, "If ye strike not at the root, the branches that appear to be broken will bud again, and this more quickly than man can believe, with greater force than we could wish." On the day on which this letter was dated, Murray dispatched Elphinstone to Elizabeth, to impress upon her the absolute necessity of some immediate and decisive dealing with Mary. He assured her that the faction in her favour both at home and abroad was daily acquiring fresh force; that the Spaniards and the Pope were intriguing with the Romanists of England and Scotland, and that daily succours were expected from France. Ho demanded that she should, therefore, at once exchange the Queen of Scots for the Duke of Norfolk, and enable him, by a proper supply of money and arms, to resist their common foes. He entreated her to remember that the heads of all these troubles - no doubt meaning Mary and Norfolk - were at her command, and that if she declined this arrangement, he must forbear to adventure Ms life as he had done.
These negotiations, however private, did not escape the knowledge of Mary's friends. The Bishop of Boss immediately entered a protest before Elizabeth against the scheme, which he declared would be tantamount to signing the death-warrant of the Queen of Scots. He induced the ambassadors of France and Spain to enter like protests; but whether they would have been effective remains a mystery, for Elizabeth had dispatched Sir Henry Gates to the regent on the subject, when the news of Murray's end altered the whole position of affairs.
Private revenge and public had combined to accomplish this tragedy. James Hamilton, of Bothwellhaugh, an estate adjoining the celebrated Bothwell-brig, was one of the Hamilton clan who fought at Langside, and was there taken and condemned to death, but let off with the forfeit of his estate. The loss of his property of itself might have been cause enough of discontent to a proud and high-spirited gentleman, but this was rendered tenfold more intolerable by the seizure of that of his wife, and her ejectment from it in the most brutal manner. She was the proprietor of Woodhouselee, a small estate on the Esk, and was living there in imagined security, when Murray gave the place to his favourite Bellenden, the justice clerk. This heartless wretch turned out the wife of Bothwellhaugh in the most barbarous manner, in a bitter winter's night, with only her night-clothes on. In the morning she was discovered in the woods in a state of furious madness. Bothwellhaugh vowed destruction to the ruffian lawyer. The Hamiltons encouraged him from political hatred to the regent; and he is said by 0 alder well to have made two abortive attempts to shoot the regent, when a most favourable opportunity presented itself for the execution of his inextinguishable vengeance.
Murray was about to proceed from Stirling to Edinburgh, and had arranged to pass through Linlithgow. The Archbishop of St. Andrew's, the uncle of Bothwellhaugh, had an old palace in the High-street of that town, through which Murray must pass. Bothwellhaugh took possession of this, and made all his preparations for the murder with the coolest exactness. He barricaded the front door, so that no one could, without considerable delay, force their way in to seize him. In the back yard he placed a powerful and swift horse, ready bridled and saddled for flight; and even removed the head of the doorway, so as to admit him to spring upon his steed, and ride through it without the moment's delay of leading the horse there. He then cut a hole through a praulet below a window, in a sort of wooden gallery, from which he could survey the procession, large enough to admit the barrel of his gun. To prevent his booted steps being heard, he laid a feather bed on the floor; and to prevent the possible casting of a shadow, hung up behind him a black cloth. These preparations being made, he stood ready, with his piece loaded with four bullets.
The regent had been duly warned of his danger by a faithful servant named John Herne, who seems to have had full knowledge of Bothwellhaugh's plan and place of ambush, and offered to take the regent where he could seize the assassin on the spot. With that fatal neglect which so often attends such victims, Murray agreed to avoid the public street, but took no means to secure the murderer. The crowd on entering the town became so great that he allowed himself to be densely surrounded - as it were, borne irresistibly along the fatal street. The throng, moreover, compelled him to move slowly, giving his enemy ample time to take aim. As he passed the archbishop's house, Bothwellhaugh fired so accurately that he shot him through the body, and killed the horse of the person riding next to him. The confusion which followed allowed the assassin to escape before his barricade could be forced, and he was just seen galloping away towards Hamilton. There the archbishop, the Lord Arbroath, and the whole clan of the Hamiltons received him in triumph, as the liberator of his country from an unnatural tyrant who was plotting the murder of his sister and sovereign. They immediately flew to arms, and resolved to march to Edinburgh, liberate the Duke of Chatelherault, and assume the government.
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