The History of Leith

October 16, 2012

The notorious Earl of Bothwell

In 1562 great excitement was occasioned in the
city by an act of violence perpetrated by the
notorious Earl of Bothwell, who, with the aid of the
Marquis d’Elboeuf, Lord John of Coldinghame, and
other wild spirits, broke up the doors of Cuthbert
Ramsay’s house in St. Mary’s Wynd one night,
while searching, sword in hand, for his daughter in-
law, Alison Craig, a celebrated _ courtesan, who,
though living under the protection of ” the godly
Erl of Arrane,” as Knox records in very coarse
language, yet contrived to be on very good terms
with other nobles who were his avowed enemies.
. A strong remonstrance was presented to the Queen
on this subject, beseeching her to punish the
perpetrators; but as that was no easy matter, the
brawl was hushed up, and, thus emboldened, Bothwell
and other gallants proceeded to play wilder
pranks in the streets during the night, till Gavin
Hamilton, Abbot of Kilwinning, who had joined
the Reformation party, resolved to curb their
violence by the strong hand. According to the histories
of Knox and Keith, he armed all his followers,
sallied forth to oppose the revellers, and a serious
conflict ensued in the street, between the Cross
and Tron. Crossbow bolts and hackbut shots flew
far and near, while the alarm-bells summoned the
burghers to ” the redding of the fray,” and rival
leaders came sallying forth as hate or humour led
.them, to join in the riot; till the Earls of Murray
and Huntley, who were then residing at Holyrood,
by order of the Queen, marched up the Canongate
with all the armed men they could muster, and
crushed the tumult. Bothwell afterwards, by the
mediation of Knox, effected a reconciliation with
the Earl of Arran, the Abbot of Kilwinning, and
others who were his enemies.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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