The History of Leith

September 9, 2012

The terrible execution of Lady Jane Douglas,

The terrible execution of—that of Lady Jane Douglas, the young and beautiful widow of John Lord Glammis, who, with her second husband, Archibald Campbell of Skipness, her son the little Lord Glammis, and John Lyon
an aged priest, were all committed prisoners to the Castle, on an absurd charge of seeking to compass
the death of the king by poison and sorcery. ” Jane Douglas,” says a writer in ” Miscellanea
Scotica,” ” was the most renowned beauty in Britain at that time. She was of ordinary stature, but her
mien was majestic; her eyes full, her face oval, her complexion delicate and extremely fair; heaven
designed that her mind should want none of those perfections a mortal creature can be capable of;
her modesty was admirable, her courage above what could be expected from her sex, her judgment
solid, and her carriage winning and affable to her inferiors.” One of the most ardent of her suitors,
on the death of Glammis, was a man named William Lyon, who, on her preferring Campbell of Skipness, vowed by a terrible oath to dedicate his life to revenge. He thus accused Lady Jane and ‘
the three others named, and though their friends were inclined to scoff at the idea of treason, the ‘.
artful addition of ” sorcery ” was suited to the growing superstition of the age, and steeled against I
them the hearts of many. Examined on the rack, before the newly-constituted Court of Justiciary, extremity of agony compelled them to assent to whatever was asked, and they were thus condemned by their own lips. Lady Jane was sentenced to perish at the stake on the Castle Hill. Her son, her husband, and the old friar were all replaced in David’s Tower, where the first remained a prisoner till 1542.
Mercy was implored in vain, and on the l7th of July — three days after the execution of the Master
of Forbes — the beautiful and unfortunate Lady Jane was led from the Castle gates and chained to
a stake. “Barrels tarred, and faggots oiled, were piled around her, and she was burned to ashes within view of her son and husband, who beheld the terrible scene from the tower that overlooked
it.”
On tlie following night Campbell, frenzied by grief and despair, attempted to escape, but fell over
the rocks, and was found next morning dashed out of all human shape at the foot of the cliff. James V.
was struck with remorse on hearing all this terrible story. He released the friar; but, singular to say, William Lyon was merely banished the kingdom; while a man named Mackie, by whom the alleged
poison was said to be prepared, was shorn of his ears.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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