The History of Leith

February 16, 2005

Letter from Grey, Croftes and Saddler to Lord Norfolk

This letter was written during the the Siege of Leith in 1560. The Dowager mentioned was Mary of Guise mother of Mary Queen of Scots. The Siege ended on the 16th July 1560.

They perceive by the Queens letter of the 16th and others which his Grace has addressed to them that she has been informed that by reason of the late treaty had with the French by Croftes and Howard, the Lords of Scotland have been much perplexed and in some despair, that for lack of money this matter would not be carried to an end Understanding that the Queen would rather have the matter ended by treaty than by force, they proceeded to some treaty with the Dowager; and finding the execution of the enterprise against Leith not so easy as was supposed, lacking sufficient power of men, they pressed the Scotch Lords to be content to fall to some accord. They are very well satisfied and content with the English proceedings.
2. Yesterday Sir Henry Percy with 300 horse conducted the Bishop of Valence from Haddlington thither; who, with out showing himself to the Lords, repaired to Edinburgh Castle to the Dowager, which nevertheless was done by the consent of the said Lords. In the afternoon he returned to the camp to confer with them, and delivered to the Duke of Chutellerault, the Earls of Arran and Glencairn, and Lord James sundry letters of credence from the French King and Queen, and then made them a long discourse of the displeasure that the King and Queen had of the troubles an discords in Scotland, for the pacification whereof he had been sent with ample commission; but because his tale was told in French and somewhat long, they refer the Duke to the Laird of Lethingtons letter. This day the Lords of Scotland will let him know their petitions for pacification, which he thinks will be for the removing the French out of Scotland, and the committing the government there to some of the nobility and a national council. They may be contented that some small number of French remain at Dunbar, so that the Dowager be utterly deprived of the government.
3. But hanging their treaty the English intend to proceed, and lose no time in the execution of the enterprise to Leith; for the better achieving whereof, as they have not enough men to make two camps, they have devised a fort upon the furthest part of the high ground within 600 yards of the town, where they have already planted certain artillery to beat the steeple, whereupon the French have made a platform, which has done much annoyance: but he trusts to take away the said steeple ere it be night. When the fort is in some strength (which they hope it will in five or a days they intend to put a convenient number of men into it to besiege that side of the town, and to remove the camp to the south-west side of the town, (which is the weakest, as they are informed), and on that side also they intend to employ your man at his feat. So that if the Bishop makes not haste with his accord, they may end the matter in a manner not pleasant to the French. They have already entertained a number of Scotch pioneers.
4. When the treasure arrives they will take into wages such number of soldiers of Scotland as shall be expedient, without putting the Queen to too much charges.
5. P. S. Since the writing hereof, the steeple above specified is put out of all order to do any further annoyance.
Lestalrick, 22 April 1560. Signed: William Grey, James Croftes, B. Sadler,
(trig. Entid. by Cecils secretary. Pp. 4. Written April 22nd 1560

The steeple mentioned above was the steeple of the Preceptory of St Anthony. Croftes and Saddler were Officers of the English Army and Grey was Lord Grey Commander of the English Forces.

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