The History of Leith

September 9, 2012

The Master of Forbes

In the reign of James V. the Master of Forbes
was executed here for treason. He and his father
had been warded in the Castle on that charge in
1536. By George Earl of Huntly, who bore a
bitter animosity to the house of Forbes, the former
had been accused of a design to take the life of
the king, by shooting him with a hand-gun in
Aberdeen, and also of being the chief instigator
of the mutiny among the Scottish forces at Jedburgh,
when on the march for England. Protesting
his innocence, the Master boldly offered to
maintain it in single combat against the earl, who
gave a bond for 30,000 merks to make good his
charge before the 3ist of July, 1537. But it was
not until the 11th of the same month in the following
year that the Master was brought to trial,
before Argyle, the Lord Justice General, and
Huntly failed not to make good his vaunt.
Though the charges were barely proved, and the
witnesses were far from exceptionable, the luckless
Master of Forbes was sentenced by the Commissioners
of Justiciary and fifteen other men of
high rank to be hanged, drawn, beheaded, and dismembered
as a traitor, on the Castle Hill, which
was accordingly done, and his quarters were placed
above the city gates. The judges are supposed to
have been bribed by Huntly, and many of the jury,
though of noble birth, were his hereditary enemies.
His father, after a long confinement, and undergoing
a tedious investigation, was released from
the Castle.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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