dumfries-1920/04-043

Transcription

INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS IN DUMFRIESSHIRE.

appointed. But it was increasingly clear that things could not go on in this makeshift
way, that some special effort should be made to root out Border lawlessness. It was in
this interest that Herries tendered his proposals of 1579. Maxwell had protested
to the Privy Council that he could not retain the office of Warden except on terms
which would make him a petty sovereign in the district; "he would needs be absolute
in these parts," ¹ and with this presented a roll of five hundred names of men deemed
disobedient within his bounds. Herries proposed that the Warden should have his
official residence at Lochmaben, that local lairds should, in times of disobedience,
remain in the country with their households, that there should be a police force of
twenty-four horsemen at Annan, and a captain with another force at Langholm, that
Lochmaben and Annan should be adequately repaired, Repentance Tower properly
equipped, the fortifications of Annan strengthened, the fords on the river provided with
defences as formerly, and courts held in the Debateable Land. ²
All this Lord Maxwell took very ill. Much of it presented itself to him as an
encroachment upon his private rights. The custody of Lochmaben Castle, he pointed
out, was a separate office having appropriate fees and duties, to which office he had
a preferable claim, both because it had been long in his family and because it was the
most convenient place for performing the duties as Steward of Annandale. To impose
the keeping of a larger household as garrison at Langholm was to impose a special
burden upon himself, who had, like other freeholders of the wardenry, pledged himself
to the King for his lands and servants. Trailtrow Tower was a small matter, but,
inasmuch as it was his private property, there seemed no reason why it should be put
to a public use any more than the houses of others in the neighbourhood. A sug-
gestion by Herries as to associating representatives of the Johnstones in certain matters
of administration could scarcely be expected to meet with Maxwell's approval; but
the mere suggestion shows in what quarter trouble was brewing.
The proposals of Lord Herries certainly impressed the Council, and later wardens
seem to have been appointed under "the conditionis mentionat in the Lord Hereis
buke." ³ Meantime Lord Maxwell refused compromise, and Lord Herries himself
resumed the wardenry of the West March, which he had just described as
having "bene evir the maist trubilsum part of the realm." In line with his own
suggestion, we now find the stewardship of Annandale associated with the office, and
thus Lochmaben Castle was used to strengthen the Warden's position. Herries held
office only till the end of the summer, when Johnstone took his place. Two years
later (1581) Johnstone was removed on the ground that he showed favour and gave
protection to persons whom he ought to have punished. ⁴ Maxwell filled his place,
but only for about a year, being discharged on the same ground as his predecessor,
that of "slothfulness" in punishing offenders. The charge in each case was probably
quite true; neither Johnstone nor Maxwell was sufficiently devoted to the common
weal to disregard the interests of friends, clansmen, and supporters.
But such a charge was possible at any time. It was a Scottish rule in all
departments of administration to show favour towards one's kin and friends. Such
occasions as these, when the charge was made a reason for the Warden's removal,
were no doubt due to political factors arising out of the many changes of Government
that kept in turmoil the minority of James VI. Maxwell was certainly unfortunate

1 Spottiswoode's History of the Church of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 263.
2 Register Privy Council, iii. pp. 79-82.
3 Ibid., p. 531.
4 Ibid., p. 374.

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