in his relations with some of the regents. With the Earl of Morton he quarrelled over
matters relating to that earldom, and Morton, who had made him Warden, now
unmade him. But the Douglas earl ended his career on the scaffold in 1581, and a
few months later the eighth Lord Maxwell became first (and only) Earl of Morton of
his line as well as warden. Another change of Government led to his displacement
from office, and the appointment of Johnstone in his room (1583). Maxwell's re-
sponse was to prohibit "all his adherentes, tenantes and dependers to make him
(i.e. Johnstone) answere or service as wardein." ¹ For a time this meant mainly
trouble with England, since offenders against that country could rely upon Maxwell
protection. Division between the two great groups, the lairds and clans in Nithsdale
and Eskdale (Armstrongs) who attached themselves to Maxwell and those in Annan-
dale who stood by Johnstone, was still racking the West March in the spring of 1585.
Then more active hostilities began, which are typical of what took place under similar
conditions at other times, and, as usual, involved almost every surname on the West
Border. In April Robert Maxwell, brother of the Earl, with four hundred men struck
at the Johnstone heart in Lochwood, slew some Johnstones, took others prisoners, and
burnt the house of Lochwood. ² Towards the end of the month the same Robert with
his Armstrongs burnt about eighty houses of Johnstone's tenants and friends, after
plundering them of cattle and furnishing. ³ Contemporaneously the Johnstones had
got to work. They burnt Duncow, but were driven off by Maxwells; whereupon the
Earl of Morton (Maxwell) himself did some burning and spoiling as reprisals on the
Johnstone bounds. As a separate adventure, on the same day, Robert Maxwell,
with Armstrongs, Beatsons, Littles, and Carruthers, harried Dryfesdale and burnt
part of Lockerbie, meeting with no resistance. ⁴ Early in May the Earl tried to
recover from the Irvings the "stone house" of Kirkconnel which had once been his
own, and failing, with the loss of two men, next attacked the two "stone houses" of
the Johnstones in Lockerbie, captured them, and hanged four of their defenders. ⁵
Sir John Johnstone (he had been knighted in 1584) was now on his way to Court to
seek assistance against the rebel of his wardenry. ⁶ Later in the month Maxwell, with
seventeen hundred men, horse and foot, marched rapidly from Dumfries to Moffat,
where his horsemen made a sixteen-mile circuit, in which they burnt three hundred
houses and carried off one thousand cattle, two thousand sheep, a hundred horses,
and a store of household stuff; ⁷ thus sacking the whole barony of Johnstone, where
the tenants, we note, were "baith Engless men and Scottis." ⁸ In June Lochmaben
Castle and Bonshaw Tower were being besieged by the triumphant Earl, ⁹ while in
July Johnstone fell upon the "sheyles" or shielings of some of the Maxwells and
brought away two hundred head of cattle and sixty nags, killing but one man;
Maxwell's people retorting with a lifting of eighty cattle from Johnstones. ¹⁰ Things
continued to go badly with the Johnstones. By August all the stone houses of
strength on that border, with one exception, were in Maxwell's possession, the Earl
now maintaining in pay "200 horse and 300 'shotte,' besides the whole force of
the country at his devotion," while Johnstone was the "late warden" and "straitlye
warded" by Maxwell in Caerlaverock. ¹¹ In September the "whole surname of the
Johnstons" had yielded themselves to Maxwell, and Sir John was allowed to go
free to meditate revenge: by November Maxwell was the new warden.

1 Calendar Border Papers, i. No. 153.
2 Border Papers, i. Nos. 303, 304.
3 Ibid., No. 308.
4 Ibid., No. 311.
5 Ibid., No. 312.
6 Ibid., No. 316.
7 Ibid., No. 317.
8 Hist. MSS. Comm., Rep. XV. App. ix., Johnstone MSS., p. 32.
9 Border Papers, i. No. 321.
10 Ibid., No. 327.
11 Ibid., Nos. 340, 349.

-- xlii

  Transcribers who have contributed to this page.

valrsl- Moderator

  Location information for this page.

We're working hard to make our services better for you. While we're doing some essential maintenance, this website – or parts of it – might be intermittently unavailable at times between Monday 18 – Monday 25 November. Thank you for your patience.