The Works of John Knox Volume II Part 72

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Bishop Lesley mentions a public disputation between Friar Black and John Willock, at Edinburgh, in the summer of 1561, which lasted for two days. As usual, however, in all such controversial disputes, "_in the ende, nothing was agreit_." (Hist. p. 295. See also Leslaeus de Rebus Gestis Scotorum, p. 577, Romae, 1578, 4to; and Sir James Balfour's Annals, Works, vol. i. p. 235.) Under the year 1560, (see this vol. p. 68,) Knox mentions Friar Black as performing Ma.s.s when the Queen Regent was in the Castle of Edinburgh, notwithstanding that she was aware of his licentious conduct. Two years later the Town Council of Edinburgh having apprehended and confined Friar Black "for manifest adultery," Queen Mary addressed the following letter to the Provost, Baillies, &c., of Edinburgh, commanding them to deliver the said Friar to the Captain of the Castle, to remain there till he should be brought to trial:--

"PROVEST, BAILLIES, AND COUNSALE OF EDINBURGH,--It is oure Will, and we charge zow, that incontinent efter the sicht heirof, ze deliver Freir Johne Black to the Capitane, Constabill, and Keiparis of oure Castell of Edinburgh, till be keipit thairintill surelie, unto sic tyme as we haue ordanyt for the triell of his offences before oure Justice-Generale or his Deputtis; and this on na wayis ze leaf undone, as ze will ansuer to ws thairupoun. At Sanct Androis, the 11th of April 1562.

(_Sequitur subscriptio_,) "MARIE R."

The records of criminal proceedings furnish no evidence of the Friar having ever been brought to trial; but this warrant, no doubt, saved him from the punishment which the Town Council at this time had adjudged to all fornicators, to be ducked in the North Loch. (See Maitland's Hist. of Edinb. p. 25.)

On the 12th February 1565, Andro Armestrang, and three other burgesses of Edinburgh, were brought to trial, "delat.i.t of the hurting and wounding of Freir Johne Blak, betwix his schulderis, to the effusione of his blude, upon the fyft day of Januar last bypast, betwix aucht and nyne houris at evin, in the Cowgait, betwix Nwyderis Wynd and the Freir Wynd." (Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. pp. 475*, 476*.) From another authority, mentioned below, it would seem that the Friar was killed during the fray in Holyrood, on the same night when Riccio was murdered.

The transcriber of MS. W, of Knox's History, has introduced some lines, playing upon the Friar's name, "because he was borne in the _Blak_ Freirs in Edinburgh, and was a man of _Blak_ personage, called _Blak_ to his name, and one of the Ordour of _Blak_ Friers;" and in the margin of the MS. he says, "This was added be me, Tho. Wood, quhilk I heard, thocht not mentioned by Mr. Knox." Mr. Sharpe, who says, "this copy of verses affords an excellent (?) specimen of the satirical poetry of the Reformers," has inserted the lines, in a note to Kirkton's History of the Church, p. 10, Edinb. 1817, 4to.

In a MS. volume of Calderwood's History, written in the year 1636, we find introduced, as "A description of the Queen's Black Chaplane," a somewhat different version of the lines referred to:--

"Master Knox relateth, that the Queen Regent herself had a little before deprehended the said Frier Black with his harlot in the chappel. But whoordoome and idolatrie agrie weill together. This Frier Black was Black in a threefold consideration, first in respect of his Order, for he was a Black Frier by profession; secondlie in respect of his Surname; thirdlie in respect of his Black workes. Wherupon these black verses following wer made as a black trumpet to blaze furth all his blacknesses:--

"A certane Black Frier, weill surnamed Black, And not nicknam'd: for Black wer all his workes, In a black houre borne, in all Mack deedes frack; And of his black craft one of the blackest Clerks; He took a black whoor to wash his black sarks, Committing with her black fornication: Black was his soule to shoote at such black markes; Frier Black, Black Frier, Black was his vocation."

It may be considered more important to notice, that Black had been promoted by Archbishop Hamilton, to the place of Second Master in St.

Mary's College, St. Andrews. This fact, not elsewhere recorded, appears from the following grant, in the Register of Presentations to Benefices:--

"Our Soverane Lord, &c., ordanis this letter under the Previe Seill, ratifiand and perpetualie confirmand the gift and provisioun maid and grant.i.t be John Archebishop of Sanct Androis, foundar and erectar of our Lady College, within the citie of Sanct Androis, to Maister Robert Hamiltoun, then Third Maister of the said College _of the Secund place and Maister thairof_, usit to be possessit be ane theologe (the lyke quhairof he is) _vacand be deceis of Johne Black, Blackfriar_, last possessour of the samyn," &c., 12th November 1567. "Subscrivit at Saint Androis the last day of Maij 1569." (Register of Presentation to Benefices, vol. i. fol. 25.)

Dempster celebrates Black (_praeclarus Christi miles_) for his eloquence and opposition to heresy, and for having sealed his constant profession of the faith with his blood. (Hist. Ecclesiastica Gentis Scotorum, p. 85.) This alludes to the fatal termination of the Friar's career, not on the 7th of January 1562, for which he quotes Lesley, p.

577, but on the 8th March 1565-6, when he was slain on the night of David Riccio's murder, in Holyrood House. It is singular that no notice of this should occur in our own historical writers. But Parkhurst, Bishop of Norwich, in a letter to b.u.t.tinger, giving him a summary of pa.s.sing events, dated 21st August 1566, after noticing the murder of "Signor David, skilled in necromancy, and in great favour with the Queen of Scots," mentions that Black, a Dominican Friar, held in great estimation among the Papists, was also killed that night. But even this grave prelate cannot restrain his humour in reference to the Friar's name; his words are: "Fraterculus quidam, nomine Blacke (niger, _Swartz_,) Papistarum antesigna.n.u.s, eodem tempore in Aula occiditur.

"Sic Niger hic Nebulo, nigra quoque morte peremptus, Invitus Nigrum subito descendit in Orc.u.m."

This letter, first published by Burnet, (Hist. Reform., vol. iii.

App., p. 360,) is included in the collection of Zurich Letters, published by the Parker Society, p. 99. London, 1842, 8vo. The translator thus renders the above distich:--

"Seized by black Death, this blacker Knave Descended to the gloomy grave." (Ib. p. 166.)

No. V.


IT appears somewhat doubtful whether Knox contemplated giving any detailed account of Riccio's life: compare vol. i. p. 235, and vol.

ii. p. 422. If so, it would probably not have been so much a narrative of his private history, as an exposure of the influence which he seems to have exerted in public affairs, tending to the overthrow of the Reformed Religion. Although we cannot attribute to Knox the pa.s.sages in the Fifth Book which relate the murder of Riccio, yet some detached notices exhibiting his progressive advancement at the Scotish Court, chiefly derived from the Public Records, may not be considered as out of place in this Appendix.

DAVID RICCIO, a native of Pancalieri, in Piedmont, was born about the year 1534, and was first in the service of the Archbishop of Turin. In December 1561, the Marquis de Morette, the Amba.s.sador of Savoy, arrived in Scotland to congratulate Queen Mary on her return to her native kingdom. It was in the suite of the Marquis that Riccio, when about twenty-eight years of age, came to this country in quality of Secretary. (Labanoff, Recueil des Lettres de Marie Stuart, Reine d'Ecosse, vol. i. p. 120, vol. vii. pp. 65, 86.) His knowledge of the French and Italian languages, and his skill in music, recommended him to the Queen's notice, and led to his permanent residence in Scotland as "virlat," "chalmer-cheild," or one of the valets of her chamber. In the Treasurer's Accounts in the early part of the year 1562, we find the following payments:--

1561-2.--"Item, the said day, (viij day of Januar,) be the Quenis Grace precept to David Ritio, virlat in the Quenis Grace chalmer, 1. lib. (50.)

1562.--"Item, the xvj day of Aprile, be the Quenis Grace precept to David Ritio, Italiane, chalmer-cheild, as his acquittance schawin vpoun compt beris, xv. lib."

These payments seem to have been additions to the annual pension granted to him by the Queen. In the "Compt of the Collector Generall of the Thirds of Benefices," for the year 1561, and rendered 18th February 1563-4, we find among the pensions paid, the following entry:--"And of the soume of threscoir fivetene pundis, pait be the Comptare to DAVID RYCHEO, Italiane, vallet of the chalmer, for his zeirlie pensioun, granted to him be the Quenis Majestie, of the zeir compted, as hir Hienes letters vnder hir subscriptioun, and the said Davidis acquittance schawin and producit upoun compt proportis, lxxv. lib."

In 1564, Riccio's salary was 80, paid quarterly; and in December that year, he was nominated French Secretary to the Queen, in place of Raulet. (Randolph's Letter to Cecil, 3d December 1564, Keith's Hist., vol. ii. p. 259; and Labanoff, vol. i. p. 248.) In the Treasurer's Accounts in August 1565, there are numerous payments made "to David Riccio Secretar," for articles of furniture, dress, &c., "be the King and Quenis Graces precept," chiefly for the use of "the Kingis Grace."

He had been an active promoter of the Queen's marriage with Darnley, which may have contributed to increase his interest at Court.

Randolph, in a letter to Cecil, dated 3d June 1565, uses this strong language:--" David now worketh all, and is only governor to the King and his family; _great is his pride, and his words intolerable_.

People have small joy in this new master, and find nothing but that G.o.d must either send him a short end, or them a miserable life. Tho dangers to those he now hateth are great, _and either he must be taken away, or they find some support, that what he intendeth to others may fall upon himself_." (Keith's Hist., vol. ii. p. 291.) It has been said that he was appointed Keeper of the Great Seal about this time.

This undoubtedly is a mistake: see vol. i. p. 446. But the influence he had obtained, and the prospect that when the Parliament a.s.sembled he might prevail upon the Queen to proceed against the Earl of Murray and the chief Protestants, in connexion with the foolish jealousy of her husband, gave rise to that conspiracy which terminated in Riccio's murder--one of those deeds which disgrace the history of this country.

Referring again to the Treasurer's Accounts, one or two other entries may be quoted:--

"Item, be the Quenis grace command, the last of Januar [1565-6,]

to David Riccio, for reparatione of his chalmer, as his acquittance schawin upoun compt beris, ij^c lib. (200.)"

On the last of February he received, on the Queen's account, 2000 in part payment of 10,000 merks, for "the dewitie of the Cunzehouse." And after his death, we find,

"Item, the xxix day of Maij (1566) to ane boy pa.s.sand of Edinburgh with letters of our Soueranis, to be deliverit to Robert Commendator of Halierudhouse, to command and charge all and sindrie personis, intrometteris, havaris, withhalderis, and detenaris of the horssis quhatsumevir partening to umquhill DAVID RICCIO, _Secretar_, to be deliverit to the said Commendator, ix s."

The Collection of Queen Mary's Letters, formed with almost unexampled care and zeal by the Prince Alexander Labanoff, includes two long and interesting dispatches in Italian, (one without date, the other, 8th October 1566,) addressed to Cosmo Duke of Tuscany, which furnish various particulars both relating to Riccio's history and the events preceding his murder, on the evening of Sat.u.r.day the 9th March 1565-6.

"Ah povero Davit, mio buono et fedel servitore, Dio habbi misericordia di vostra anima!" (Recueil, &c., vol. vii. pp. 65, 86, 93.)

Calderwood repeats what George Buchanan states in his History regarding Riccio's funeral: "After the flight of the n.o.blemen from Edinburgh, the Queen caused to take up in the night Seigneur Davie his corps, which had been buried before the Abbey kirk doore, and lay it near to Queene Magdalene; which ministered no small occasioun to the people of bad constructions." (History, vol. ii. p. 316.)

"A Relation of the Death of David Rizzi, chief favourite of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland; who was killed in the apartment of the said Queen on the 9th March 1565. Written by the Lord Ruthen, one of the princ.i.p.al persons concerned in that action," was printed at London 1699, 8vo, and has been several times reprinted. One of these editions, forming part of a volume ent.i.tled, "Miscellanea Antiqua Anglicana," London, 1815, 4to, is accompanied with a portrait of Riccio: It has much the look of an original by Zucchero, and is "painted on a small circular pannel; and on the back are rudely cut into the wood the name _Davit Rixio_, and the date 1564."

No. VI.


IT is often impossible to identify persons at an early period who held high ecclesiastical appointments, from only their baptismal names and designations being given in deeds and the public records. But it is singular that any difficulty should have been experienced in regard to persons who flourished so late as the middle of the 16th century.

Among the dignified clergy who were present at the condemnation of Sir John Borthwick for heresy, in May 1540, we find the names of William Commendator of Culross, and John Abbot of Lindores. Both of these individuals took their seats as Lords of Session, on the Spiritual side, 5th November 1544; they had also a seat in Parliament; and both of them having joined the Reformers, were present when the Confession of Faith was ratified and approved in August 1560.


I have two deeds dated in 1539-40, and 1541, granted by "William Commendator and Usufructuar of Culross, and John be the permission of G.o.d Abbot of that ilk, and Convent of the samyn," signed, "VILLELMUS Commendatarius de Culross, JOHANNES COLVILE Abbas," and by "Frater Johannes Christeson," and the other brethren of the convent. Another deed, dated 20th March 1564-5, is signed by William Commendator, &c., along with the brethren of the Convent; John Colville, Abbot, having probably died before this. William Commendator of Culross filled the office of Comptroller from 1546 to 1550. His name occurs among the signatures to the Book of Discipline, see page 258. That the Commendator as well as the Abbot was a Colville might be shown from several incidental notices. One instance may suffice; in the Register of Signatures, there is recorded the Confirmation of a pension of 61, 6s. 8d., and "twenty bollis rynnand met of quheit, granted by umquhill WILLIAME Commendator of Culross, and Convent thairof, TO MAISTER ROBERT COLVILL BROTHER TO THE SAID UMQUHILL COMMENDATOR," 15th April 1569.


There is much less certainty in regard to this Abbot. In a deed dated 19th February 1539-40, John Abbot of Lindoris signs as Coadjutor and Administrator of the Abbey of Kelso, during the minority of Lord James Stewart Commendator, who was then under age. In 1540, John Abbot of Lindores had a seat in Parliament; and four years later he appears as one of the Lords of Session. In the Provincial Council held at Edinburgh in 1549, he sat as Abbot; and, as Knox states under the year 1559, (vol. i. p. 392,) having submitted to the Congregation, he was stigmatized as an apostate. In August 1560, he gave his sanction to the Confession of Faith. John Commendator of Lindoris is named as having been present at the meeting of the General a.s.sembly, 25th June 1566, but probably did no long survive.

In the "Epistolae Regum Scotorum," there is a letter addressed by John Duke of Albany, Governor of Scotland, to Pope Hadrian the Sixth, dated 9th March 1521-2, which may a.s.sist in ascertaining this point. It states that the venerable father, Henry Abbot of Lundoris, on account of the increasing infirmities of age, "ad solicitudines et vigilantiores loci sufferandos labores, praecipuum et probatum virum JOHANNEM PHILP, inibi professum Monachum Presbyterum, delegit;" and therefore he had resigned to him the Abbacy, reserving to himself for life the revenues of this benefice, requesting his Holiness to confirm the said John Philp as Abbot. "Johannes Philp" appears in the list of Determinants in St. Salvator's College, St. Andrews, in 1536; and the following year "M. Johannes Philp" is included among the Licentiates for the higher degree of Master of Arts. That this person may have been the son or nephew of the Abbot is by no means improbable.

It is not ascertained how long Abbot Henry, who sat in Parliament in 1513, may have survived the appointment of his coadjutor in 1522. That Abbot John may have held the office for a period of forty-five years, is, at least, a probable conjecture; and in the absence of more direct proof, that this individual was JOHN PHILP, it may be noticed that several persons of that name appear connected with Lindoros for a length of time. Among others, (1.) James Philp of Ormeston, (who died in 21st January 1579-80,) and Margaret Forrest his spouse, had a charter of lands in the Grange of Lindores, 24th March 1574. According to his testament, confirmed 26th April 1583, John Philp, burgess of Newburgh, was his brother-german, and mention is made of Henry and John Philpis, as his lawfull barnes. (2.) James Philp, junior, and Margaret Philp his spouse, had a lease of 3-1/2 acres of land in the regality of Lindoris, 18th October 1580. (3.) Letters of Legitimation of Henry Philp, b.a.s.t.a.r.d, natural son of Mr. John Philp in Newtoun of Lindoris, were granted 10th September 1580. (4.) The same person styled simply Henry Philp, son of Mr. John Philp in Newburgh, had a charter of five acres in the Hauch of Lundores in Fife, 21st December 1592.

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