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86. The Trial of GEORGE Sprot, in Scotland, for High Treason, in
conspiriog with John Eari of Gowrie to murder King James I. 6 JAMES I. August 12, A. D. 1608. [Spotiswood's History of
the Church of Scotland, p. 509.] GEORGE SPROT, a notary, inhabiting at Ayo 1 in any speeches touching the purpose of Padua. . mouth, having given cause of suspicion by some My lord, you may easily understand, that such Words which fell from him, and afterwards by a purpose as your lord ship intendeth, cannot some Papers found upon him, that he was • be done rashly, but with deliberation. And privy to and acquainted with the Plotting of the I think for myself, that it were most meet to late earl of Gowrie* and Robert Logane, for baue the men your lordship spake off, ready in the cruel murdering of king James, was seized a boat or bark, and address them as if they were and committed to prison; and after divers Exa taking pastime on the sea, in such fair summinations, being moved with remorse of coosci 'mer-time. And if your lordship could think ence for the long concealing his fore-knowledge good, either yourseli to come to my house of of this Conspiracy, confesseth, declareth, and Fast-Castle by sea, or to send your brother, I deponeth, That he knew perfectly, that Robert • should have the place very quiet and well Logane, late of Restalrig, was privy and upon provided after your lordship’s advertisement, the fore-knowledge of Gowrie's treasonable where we should have no scant of the best Conspiracy. And for the greater assurance of ( venison can be bad in England: And no his knowledge, deponeth, That he knew that • others should have access to haunt the place, there were divers Letters interchanged betwixt during your lordship's being here, but all things them, anent the treasonable purpose aforesaid, "very quiet. And if your lordship doubt of in the beginning of the month of July 1600. • safe landing, I shall provide all such necesWhich letters James Bour, called laird Bour, saries as may serve for your lordsisip's arrival, servitor to liestalrig, (who was imployed media within a flight shot of the house. And pertor betwixt them, and privy to all that errand) suade your lordship you shall be as sure and had in keeping, and shewed the same to Sproí quiet here, while we have settled our Plot, as in the place of Fast-Castle. The first of Gow if you were in your own chamber: for I trust rie's Letters, containing in effect as followeth : cand am assured we shall hear word within a
Good laird of Restalrig, you understand · few days from them your lordship knoweth • what Conditions should have been betwixt of; for I have care to see what ships comes us, of before. Indeed I purposed to have home by. Your lordship knoweth I hare
come by your house, but understanding of your · kept the lord Bothwell quietly in this house • absence in Lothian, I came not. Always I l in his greatest extremity, say both king and I wish you either yourself to come West, or 6 council what they liked. I hope, if all things
else to send some sure messenger, who may 6 come to pass, as I trust they shall, to have • confer with me anent the purpose you know. • both your lordship and his lordship at one • But rather would I wish yourself to come, not good dinner afore I die. Hæc jocosè, to
only for that errand but some other thing that • animate your lordship : I doubt not, my lord, • I have to advise with you.'
• but all ihings shall be well. And I am reTo the which Letter Restalrig wrote an An 6 solved, whereof your lordship shall not doubt, swer, and sent the same to the earl of Gowrie, of any thing on my part, yea, to peril life, by the said James Bour, of the tenour following: • land, honour and goods; yea, the hazard of
My lord, my most humble duty and service hell shall not affray me from that, yea, alheartily remembred. At the receipt of your though the scattold were already set up. The • lordship's Letter I am so comforted, that I can 'sooner the matter were done, it were the
neither utter my joy, nor find myself sutiici- better, for the king's buck-lıunting will be • ently able to requite your lordship with due shortly; and I hope it shall prepare some
thanks. And persuade your lordship in that dainty cheer for us to dine against the next • matter, I shall be as forward for your lord-year. I remember well, my lord, and I will • ship's honour, as if it were my own cause. never forget so long as I live, that merry sport
And I think there is no living Christian that which your lordship's brother told me of a no+ vould not be content to revenge that Machia bleman at Padua; for I think that a Paras
velliaa massacring of vur dear friends; yea, 'cere to this purpose. My lord, think nothing • howbeit it should be, to venture and hazard that I cominit the secrecy hereof and credit • life, lands, and all other things else. My • to this bearer; for I dare not only venture
heart can bind me to take part in that matter, my life, lands, and all other things I have • as your lordship shall find better proof thereof. else, ou bis credit, but I durst hazard my soul
But one thing would be done, namely, That • in his keeping if it were possibly in earthly men; your lordship should be circumspect and for I am so persuaded of his truth and fidelity. Searnest with your brother, that he be not rash "And I trow, as your lordship may ask him if
. it be true, he would go to liell-Gates for me; See No. 71, and the following articles. and he is not beguiled of my part to biu.
* And therefore I doubt not but this will per- , that lie knows the time to be short, having care
suade your loroiship to give him trust in this of no earthly thing, but only for clearing of * matter, as to myself
. But I pray your lord- his conscience in the truth of all these things, sluip direct him home with all possible haste, to his own sha'ne before the world, and to the 6 and give him strait command, that he take | honour of God, and safety of his own soul;
not a wink sleep while he see me again, that all the former points and circumstances, • aiter he come from your lordship. And as contained in this fis Deposition, with the De
your lordship desireth in your Leiter to me, position made by him the 5th of July la-t, and • either rive or burn, or else send back again the whole remanant Depositions made by him with the bearer; for so is the fashion, I grant.' sen that day are true, which he will take on
Which Letter, written every word with Res- his conscience, and as he hopeth to be savent of talrig's own band, was subscribed by him after God, and that he would seal the same with his his accustomed manner, ‘Restalrig,' and was
blood. sent to the earl Gowrie by the said James Bour. And farther, being demandel, where this After whose return, within five days, with a above-written Letter, written by Restalrig to new Letter from Gowrie, he staid all night with the earl of Gowrie, which was returned again Restalrig in Gunnes-Green,* and Restalrig by James Bour, is now; deponeth, That he rode to Lothian the morn thereafter, where abstracted it quietly from Bour, in looking over he staid five or six days. Then after his re and reading Bour's Letters, which he had in turning, past to Fast-Castle, where lie remained keeping of Restalrig's ; and that he left the a certain short space.
above-written Letter in his chest among biis And farther deponeth, That he saw and Writings, when he was taken and brought away, heard Restalrig read the last Letter, which and that it is closed and folded within a piece Bour brought back to him from Gowrie, and of paper. their conference there-anent. And heard Bour This aforesaid Deposition was made by him sav; Sir, if ye think to inake any commodity the 10th of August 1608, written by James by this dealing, lay your hand to your heart. Primerose, clerk of bis majesty's privy-council, And Restalrig answered, That he would do as and subscribed with the said George Sprot's he thought best. And farther said to Bour, own hand, in the presence of the earl of DunHowbeit he should sell all his own land that bar, the earl of Lothiane, the bishop of Rosse, he had in the world, he would pass thorow with the lord Schune, the lord Halyrudehouse, the the earl of Gowrie, for that matter would give lord Blantyre, sir W. llart, his majesty's jushim greater contentment, nor if he bad the tice, Mr. John Hall, Mr. Patrick' Galoivay, whole kingdom; and rather or he should falsity Mr. Peter Hewart, ministers of the Kirks of his promise, and recall his vow that he had Edinburgh. Subscribed with all their lands. vowed to the earl of Gowrie, he should spend
And also the 11th day of the aforesaid month all that he had in the world, and hazard bis lite and year, the said George Sprot being re. with his lordsbip. To whóin Bour answered : examined, in the presence of a number of the You may do as you please, sir, but it is not any council and ministers aforesaid, and it being counsel, that you should be so sudden in that declared to him, that the time of his death now other matter. But for the condition of Dirl. very near approached, and that therefore they ton, I would like very well of it. To whom desired him to clear his conscience with an Restalrig answered, Content yourself, I am at upright declaration of the truth ; and that he my wit's end.
would not abuse the Holy Name of God, to And farther, Sprot deponeth, That he en inake him, as it were, a witness to untruths ; tered bimself thereafter in conference with and especially being desired that he would not Bour, and demanded what was done betwixt take upon him the innocent blood of any perthe Laird and the earl of Gowrie. And Bour son dead or quick, by making and forging lyes answered, That he believed that the Laird and untruths against them : should get Dirlton without either gold or silver, “ Deponeth, That be acknowledgeth his but feared that it should be as dear unto him grievous offences to God (who hath made him And Sprot inquiring how that could be ; Bour a reasonable creature) in abusing bis holy said, They bad another pie in hand, nor the Name with inany untruths, sen the beginning selling of any land; but prayed Sprot, for God's of this process : but now being resolved to die, sake, that he would let be, and not trouble bim- and ait inding the hour and time when it shall self with the laird's business ; for he feared, please Gou to call hiin, he deponeth with many within few days, the laird would be cither attestations, and as be wisheth to be partiland-less or life-less.
cipant of the kingdom of Heaven, where he And the said George Sprot being demanded, may be countable and answerable, upon the if this his Deposition was true, as he would salvation and condemnation of bis soul, for answer upon the Salvation and Condenination all bis doings and speeches in this earth, that of his soul; and if he will go to death with it, all that he hath deponed sen the 5th day of July seeing he knoweth the time and hour of his last, in all his several Depositions, were true in death to approach very near; deponeth for every point and circumstance of the same ; Answer, That he hath not a desire to live, and and that there is no untruth in any point
thereof." A house of Restlarig's.
And having desired Mr. Patrick Galoway to
make a Praver, whereby he might be com Machiavellian massacring of our dear friends, forted now in his trouble; wbich was done: the yea, howbeit it should be, to venture and basaid Deponer, with many tears after the l'rayer, • zard lite, lands and all other thing else. My atfirmed this bis Deposition to be true; and for • heart can bind me to take part in that matthe contirination thereof, declared, that he ter, as your lordship shall find better proof would seal the same with his blood.
thereof. But one thing would be done : And the next day thereafter, being the 12th ' namely, That your lordslop should be circumof the atoresaid month of August, upon the spect and earnest with your brother, what he aforesaid Confession, the said George was • be not-rash in any speeches touching the purbrought fortly and presented in Judgment upon
pose of Padua,' Pannel, within the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, And a certain space after the execution of beture sir Wm. Hart of Preston, bis majesty's the aforesaid Trenson, the said Robert Logan Justice, and there in a fenced Court holden by of Restalrig, having desired the laird.of Bour to him that day, assisted by the honourable pei- deliver hin the aforesaid Letter, or else to burn sons following, his assessors in that errand: they it; and Bour having given to you all Tickets are to say, Alexander earl of Dumtermlinz, aud Letters, wbich he then had either concernlord chancellor, George earl of Dunbar, trea-ing Restalrig, or others, to see the same, besurer, John abp. of Glascow, David bp. of cause he could not read himself; you abstracted "Rosse, Gawin bp. of Galloway, Andrew lip. of the above-written Letter, and reteined the Brechine, David earl of Crawford, Mark earl same in your own hands, and divers times read Post Lothiane, John lord Abirnethy of Saltoun, it, containing farther in substance nor is forJames lord of Balmerinoth, secretary, Walter merly set down, according to the words follord Blantyre, John lord Hallyrudehouse, Mich- lowing : nel lord Burley, sir Rd. Cokburne of Clarkina My Lord, you may easily understand, that toun, kt. Mr. John Preston of Fenton Barnes, such a purpose as your lordship intendeth, collector-general, sir John Skeyne of Curi hil, • cannot be done rashly, but with deliberation. knight, clerk of register: was delated, ac And I think for myself, that it were inost cursed, and pursued by sir Tho. Ilamilton of • meet to have the men your lordship spake of, Binning, koight, advocate to our sovereign ready in a boat or bark, and address them as lord for bis brighness's entries, of the Crimes ' it they were taking pastime on the sea, in contained in bis Indictment, produced by the such lor suininer time. And if your lordship said Advocate; whereof the Tenour folloireih: • could think good, either yourself to come 10 • George Sprot, notary in Ayemouth, You are iny house of Fa-t-Castle by sen, or to send indicted and accused, forsomuch as Jobi, your brother, I should have the place very sometime earl of Gowrie, having most cruelly, quict, and well provided after your lordship's detestably, and treasonably conspired in the ' advertisement, where we should bare no scant month of July, the year of God 1600 years, to
of the best venison can be had in England. murder our dear and most gracious sovereign " And no others should have access to haunt the king's inost excellent majesty : and having the place during your lordship's being here, imparted that devilish; purpose to Robert Logan • but all things very quiet. And if your
lordof Restalrig, who allowed of the same, and slip doubt of sate landing, I shall provide all most willingly and readily undertook to be par. • such necessaries as may serve for your lordtaker thereot: The same coming to your know • ship's arrival, within a flight-shot of the house. ledge at the times and in the manner particu ' And persuade your lord ship you shall be as larly after specitied, you most unnaturally, ma sure and quiet Weie, while we have settled liciously, and treasonably concealed the same, our Plot, as if you were in your own chainand was art and part thereot in manner follow iler: for I trust, and am assured, we shall ung. In the tirst, in the said month of July have word within few days from them your 1600 years, after you bad perceived and known, ..lordship knoweth of; for I have care to see that divers Teters and Messages had past be ' what ships comes home by. Your lordship twixt the said sometime earl of Gowrie, and • kuoweth I have kept the lord Boibwell quietly the said Robert Loyan of Restalrig, you being ' in this house in his greatest extremit', say in the brouse of Fast-Castle, you saw and read
both king and council what they liked. I a Letter written by the said Robert Logan of I hope, if all things come to pass, as I trust Restalrig, with his own hand, to the said John, thry shall, to buve both your lordship and his sometime earl of Gowrie, of the tenour fol 'lordship at one good dinner afore I die. lito lowing:
' jocose, to animate your lordship: I doubt not • My Lord, my most bumble duty and ser my lord but all things shall be will. And I « vice beartily remembered. At the receipt of am resolved, whereof your lordship shall not "your lordship's Letter I am so comforted, that • doubt, of any thing on my part, yea to peril
I can neither uiter my joy, nor find myself lite, land, honour anıt goods'; yea, the hazard suthiciently able to require your lordship with • of hell shall not attray me from that, yi a,
due thanks. And persuade your lordship in although the scattolu were already set up. " that matter, I shall be as forward for your "The soorer the matter were dune, it mee • lordships honour, as if it were minc oun 'the better; for the king's buck-humling will
And I think there is no living Chris be shortly; and I hope it shall prepare sine at would not be content to revenge that dainty cheer for us to dine against the next
I remember well, my lord, and I will pound of silver. Verertheless, albeit you knew never forget so long as I live, that merry perfectly the whole practices and progress of sport which your lordship's brother told me the said Treason, from the beginning thereof
of a nobleman at Padua : for I think that a as said is, as well by the sight of the saiu Let• Parascere to this purpose. My lord, think ters, as also by your Confererces with the said • nothing that I commit the secrecy hereof and James Bour, called Laird Ljur, and Robert Lo
credit to this bearer; for I dare not only reu gan of Restalrig; yet during all the days of 'ture my life, lands, and all other things I have their life-time, who lived till the year of God . eise, on his credit, but I durst hazard my soul 1606 years, or thereby, and so by ihe space of ' in his keeping, if it were possibly in earthly six years after that, you knew the guiltiness of
men; for I am so persuaded ot his truth and the treasonable Conspiracy aforesaid, you most • fidelity. And I trow, as your lordship may ask treasonably concealed the same; and so you • him if it be true, he would go to bell-gates for was and is art and part of the said most hei'me; and he is not beguiled of my part to him. nous, detestable and treasonable Conspiracy, ' And therefore, I doubt not but this will per- and of the knowledge and concealing thereof; 'suade your lordship to give hiin trust in ibis and therefore you ought and should incur, un' inatter as to myselt. But I pray your lord- derlie and suffer the sentence and pain of
ship direct hiin home with all possible haste, lligh-Treason. To the token, that ye bare not • and give him strait command, that be take only by your Depositions subscribed with your "not a wink sleep, while see ine again, after hand, and solemnly made in presence of many
he come from your lordship. And as your of the lords of his majesty's Council, and of the ' lordship desireth in your Letter to me, either i ministers of the Borough of Edinburgh, of the
rive or burn, or else send back again with rates, the 5th, 13th and 10th days of July last • the bearer; tor so is the fashion, I grant.' by-past, and 10th and 11th days of Augusi in
Which Letter, written every word with the stant, confessed every head, poini, and article said Robert Logan his own hand, was subscribe of the Indictinent above written, but also, by ed by hiin after his accustomed manuer, with divers other your Depositions subscrived likethis word, Restalrig.
wise with your hand, you have ratificd the same, And albeit by the contents of the aforesaid and sworn constantıy to abide thereat, and to Letter, you knew perfectly the truth of the said seal the same with your blood, which you caumost treasonable Conspiracy, and the said not deny. Robert Logan of Restalrig, his foreknowledge, Which Indictment being read openly in julyallowance, and guiltiness thereot; like as you ment to the said George Sprot, betore he was were assured of the same by his receiving of put to the knowledge of an inquest, he conte:sdivers Letters sent by Gowrie to him, and by ed in the presence of the said Lord Justice and liis sending Letters to Gowrie for the saine pur- | whole Assessors above-named, the swe and pose, and by sundry Conferences betwixt the every point thereot to be true and of verity. snid Robert Logane of Restalrig, and the said And therefore ihe justice ordained the saine James Bur in your presence and bearing con- Indictment to be put to the knowledge of a cerning the said Treason, as well in the said condiun Inquest of the honest, fanions and dismonth of July immediately preceding the at creet yerons under-written. They are to say tempting of the said Treason, as at divers other sav: lin. Trumbill of Ardre, Win. Fisher, times shortly thereafter, as likewise by the re Merchant, Burgess of Edinburgh. Robert vealing thereof to you by the said James Bour, Stuart, there, Edward Johnston, Merchant, who was upon the bnowledge and device of the Burgess there, Marbert Maxwell' of Cavens, said Tre son, and was einployed as ordinary James Tennent of Linhouse, Wm. Trumbill, messenger by the said Robirt Logan of Restal- | Burgess oi Edinburgh, Jolen lucheson, Merrig, to the said soinetime earl of Gowrie, in the chant, Burgess of Edinburgh, John Leyis, Mertratrick of the said damnalile Treason, whereby chant Burgess there, James Somervell
, Meryour knowledge, concealing and guiltiness of chant, Burgess there, Wm. Simintoun, Burihe said Treason was undeniable: yet, for fur gess there, John Cunnison in Dirlton, Thomas ther manifestation thercot, about July 1602 Smith, Merchant, Burgess of Edinburgh, J. Cowyears, the said R. Logan of Restalrig shened to tis, Burgess there, and G. Brown in Gorgymill. you that Buur had told bin, that he had been Which persons of Inquest being chosen, sworn somewhat rash to let you see a Letter which and admitted, after the Accusation of the said came from the earl of Gowrie to the said Ro- George Sprot, before them, ot the said treasonbert Logan of Restalrig, who then urged you to able, heinous, and detestable Crimes conteined tell what you understood by that Let:er. To in the Indictment aforesaid, and reading of the whom you answered, That you took the mean said Indictment of new again in his and their ing of it to be, that he had been upon the presence; the said Ceorge Sprot of new concoun-el and purpose of Gowrie's Conspiracy. lessed in the audience of the suid Inquest the And he answered you, Ithatever he hai done, aforesaid Indictment, and every point thereot, the wor-t was his omn: but if you would swear to le true and of verity. Whereupon the said to him, that you should never reveal any thing sir Thomas Hamilton of Binning, bat, bis ma. of that matter to any person, he should be the jesty's advocate, as before, assed act and Inbest sight that ever you saw; and in token of sirument: and in respect thereof protested, in farther recompense he then gave you iwelve I case the said Inquest cleansed him of the said
Crimes for wilful and manifest error, And | been ever so good and gracious to his subjects: therefore the whole forenamed persons of In- protesting that if he had a thousand lives to renquest removed all together forth of Court to the der, and were able to suffer ten thousand deaths, Inguest House, where they being inclosed, by it were not a sufficient satisfaction and recomplurality of votes elected and made choice of pense for bis offence. And that God had prethe said Harbert Maxwell of Cavens, to be served him from many great perils, when his Chancellor, or Foreman. And having with great life was in extreme danger, to bring him to this deliberation gravely considered the effect and public Declaration of that detestable aud horwhole circumstances of the said Indictment, and rible fact, in presence of all the people, attered constant judicial Confession made by the party by bim in these words following: • To my own pannelled, as well before the said Lord Justice shame, and to the shame of the devil, but to and his assessors, as thereafter in presence of the the glory of God.' And for satisfaction of the Inquest themselves, they all voted upon the whole consciences of all those that have or can make effect of the said Indictment. And being ripely any doubt of the truth of this so clear a matter, and well advised therewith, re-entered again in he acknowledged that his haunting with Restalcourt, where they all in one voice, by the mouth rig, who was a man without religion, and subof the said Chancellor or Foreman, found, pro-ject to many other vices, as also his continual nounced, and declared the said George Sprot (ac- being in company with the laird of Bour, who cording to his own Confession judicially made in likewise was irreligious and without fear of God, their presence and audience) to be guilty, culpa. and his being ingyred by them into their malble, filed and convict of art and part of the said ters afier his first sight of Restalrig's Letter most heinous, detestable and treasonable Con- written by him to Gowrie, brought him from spiracy conteined in his Indictment above-writ one sin to another, and consequently upon this ten, and of the knowledge and concealing there- grievous crime, for the which most justly, worof. For the which cause the said Justice, by thily and willingly, he is now to render his life. the mouth of the Dempster of Court, by his And thereupon be desired all the people there Sentence and Doom decerned and ordeined the present to beware of evil company, and namely said George Sprot to be taken to the Market- of the society of those who are void of religion; cross of Edinburgh, and there to be hanged upon saying to them, That this was the most glorious a gibbet till he be dead, and thereafter bis head day that ever his eyes did see. In the midst to be stricken from his body, and his body to almost of these Speeches, he had prostrate himbe quartered and demeaned as a traitor, and self, and fell upon his knees in presence of the his head to be affixed and set up upon a prick whole people, making a very pithy Prayer, in of iron upon the highest part of the Toll. the form following: booth of Edinburgh, where the traitor Gowrie, • Father, how shall I call thee Father, that and others of the Conspirators heads stand; am so unworthy to be called thy son? I have and his whole lands, heritages, tacks, stedings, 'wandered astray like a lost sheep, and thou of rooms, possessions, goods and geere to be thy mercy hast brought me hoine, unto thee, forfeited and eschet to our sovereign lord bis ' and hast preserved my life from many dangers use, for his treasonable and detestable crimes • until this day, that I might reveal these hidabove specifyed. Which was pronounced for den and secret mysteries, to mine own shame, doom.
and thy glory. Thou hast promised, that Extractum de libro Actorum Adiornalis S. wbensoever a sinner from his heart will repent D. N. Regis per me D. Johannem Cohburne ' and call to thee, that thou wilt hear him, and de Ormestoun militem, Clericum Justitiariæ grant him mercy.' ejusdem generalem. Sub meis signo et sub And thus he continued a good space in a scriptione manualibus.
most fervent prayer, to the great adıniration of The Doom heing pronounced, the said George all the standers hy. And having ended the was convoyed to a privy house, where he re same, one of the Ministers prayed again, and mained at his secret meditation, and afterwards the Prisoner joined with him, That God would in conference with the ministers and others, forgive his siis, and receive his soul to mercy.' unto the time all things was provided necessary After which, Sprot standing up made divers refor his execution : and being brought to the quests : 1. That what he had delivered by bis place where he was to die, he in public audience Confession on the scaffold, might be put into of the whole people, at the three sides of the his Process, that the world might take notice scaffold, ratifyed the former Depositions made of it. 2. l'hat such as were present (as they by himn concerning the treasonable practices in- might have opportunity) would be suitors unto tended and devised betwixt Gowrie and Restal- the king, that his majesty would forgive him rig, for the murdering of our most gracious so this offence; for the which, he said, he craved vereign, and bereaving his highness of his life, pardon of God, of his sovereign, and the world. and his own knowledge and concealing of their And 3, he desired those of the ministry which guiltiness. For the which he bumbly craved were present, that wheresoever they came they God and his majesty forgiveness, being most would proclaim in the pulpit bis Confession of sorry and grieved that he had offended God and his crime, his sorrow for the same, and his full the king's majesty in concealing such a vile, de hope that God would pardon him. And to the testable and unnatural Treason, enterprized by end that this might be performed, he took the them against his gracious sovereign, who hath hands of such ministers as stood near about him,