“The Douglas Cause,” or Story of Lady Jane Douglas-Stewart – Hugh Lord Semple – “The Chevalier” – The Archers’ Hall – Royal Company of Archers formed – Their Jacobitism – Their Colours – Early Parades – Constitution and Admission – Their Hall built – Messrs. Nelsons’ Establishment – Thomas Nelson.
HOPE PARK END is the name of a somewhat humble cluster of unpretending houses which sprang up at the east end of the Meadows; but the actual villa latterly called Hope Park was built on the south bank of the former loch, “immediately eastward of the Meadow Cage,” as it is described in the prints of 1822. In character Hope Park End has been improved by the erection of Hope Park Crescent and Terrace, with the U. P. church in their vicinity; but when its only adjuncts were the Burgh Loch Brewery, the dingy edifices known as Gifford Park, and an old house of the sixteenth century, pulled down by the Messrs. Nelson, it was a somewhat sombre locality. Another old house near the Archers’ Hall showed on the lintel of its round turnpike stair the date 1704, and the initials A.B. – J.L.; but in which old mansion in this quarter the celebrated and unfortunate Lady Jane Douglas-Stewart resided we have no means of ascertaining, or whether before or after she occupied a garret in the East Cross Causeway, and only know from her letters that she lived here during a portion of the time (1753) when her long vexed case was disputed in Scotland and in England.
Having referred to this case so often, it is necessary, even for Edinburgh readers, to say something of what it was – one in which the famous toady Boswell, though little inclined to exaggeration, is reported by Sir Walter Scott to have been so ardent a partisan that he headed a mob which smashed the windows of the adverse judges of the Court of Session, when, “For Douglas or Hamilton?” was the question men asked each other in the streets, at night, and swords instantly drawn if opinions were hostile; for “the Douglas cause,” as Scott says, “shook the security of birthright in Scotland, and was a cause which, had it happened before the Union, when there was no appeal to a British House of Lords, would have left the fortress of honours and of property in ruins.” The decision of the Court of Session in 1767 led to serious disturbances and much acrimony; thus the reversal of it, two years subsequently, was received in Scotland with the greatest demonstrations of joy.
Archibald, third marquis, and first Duke of Douglas, created so in 1703, was the representative of that long and illustrious line of warriors whose race and family history are second to none in Europe.
His father, the second marquis, had been twice married – first to a daughter of the Earl of Mar, by whom he had the gallant Earl of Angus, who fell at Steinkirk in 1692; and secondly, to Lady Mary Kerr, of the house of Lothian, by whom he had Archibald, afterwards Duke of Douglas, his successor, and Lady Jean, or Jane, celebrated, like most of the women of her family, for her remarkable beauty, but still more so for her singularly evil fate.
In the first flush of her womanhood she was betrothed to Francis, Earl of Dalkeith, who succeeded his grandmother in the ducal title of Buccleuch; but the marriage was broken off, and he chose another bride, also a Jane Douglas, of the house of Queensberry, and for many years after this, the heroine of our story persistently refused all offers that were made for her hand.
At length, in the eventful year 1746, when residing at Drumsheugh, when she was in her forty-eighth year, she was secretly married to Colonel John Stewart, brother of Sir George Stewart, Bart., of Grantully, but a somewhat penniless man. Thus the sole income of the newly-wedded pair consisted of only £300 per annum, given rather grudgingly by the Duke of Douglas to his sister, with whom he was on very indifferent terms.
For economy the couple repaired to France for three years, and on returning, brought with them two boys, of whom they alleged Lady Jane had been delivered in Paris. Six months before their return their marriage was only made known, on which the duke, already referred to in our account of the Potterrow, though childless, at once withdrew the usual allowance, and thus plunged them in the direst distress; and to add thereto, Colonel Stewart’s creditors cast him into prison, while his sons were declared spurious.
With womanly heroism Lady Jane bore up against her troubles, and addressed the following letter to Mr. Pelham, the Secretary of State:- “Sir, – If I meant to importune you, I should ill deserve the generous compassion which I was informed, some months ago, you expressed on being acquainted with my distress. I take this as the least troublesome way of thanking you, and desiring you to lay my application before the king in such a light as your own humanity will suggest. I cannot tell my story without seeming to complain of one of whom I never will complain. I am persuaded my brother wishes me well, but from a mistaken resentment, upon a creditor of mine demanding from him a trifling sum, he has stopped the annuity which he has always paid me – my father having left me, his only younger child, in a manner unprovided for. Till the Duke of Douglas is set right – which I am confident he will be – I am destitute. Presumptive heiress to a great estate and family, with two children, I want bread. Your own nobleness of mind will make you feel how much it costs me to beg, though from the king. My birth and the attachment of my family, I flatter myself, His Majesty is not unacquainted with. Should he think me an object of his royal bounty, my heart won’t suffer any bounds to my gratitude; and, give me leave to say, my spirit won’t suffer me to be burdensome to His Majesty longer than my cruel necessity compels me. I little thought of ever being reduced to petition in this way; your goodness will therefore excuse me if I have mistaken the manner or said anything improper. Though personally unknown to you, I rely on your intercession. The consciousness of your own mind in having done so good and charitable a deed will be a better return than the thanks of JANE DOUGLAS-STEWART.”
A pension of £300 per annum was the result of this application; but, probably from the accumulation of past debts, the couple were still in trouble. The colonel remained in prison, and Lady Jane had to part with her jewels, and even her clothes, to supply him with food, lest he might starve in the King’s Bench. Meanwhile she resided in a humble lodging at Chelsea, and the letters which passed between the pair, many of which were touching in their tenor, and which were afterwards laid before the Court of Session, proved that their two children were never absent from their thoughts, and were the objects of the warmest affection.
Accompanied by them, Lady Jane came to Edinburgh, and in the winter of 1752 took up her residence at Hope Park, in the vicinity of her brother’s house. She sought a reconciliation, but the duke sternly refused to grant her even an interview. In a letter dated from there 8th December, 1752, to the minister of Douglas, she complains of the conduct of the Duke of Hamilton in her affairs, and of some mischief which the Marquis of Lothian had done to her cause at Douglas Castle, and adds in a postscript:-
“My dear little ones, Archy and Sholto, are, I bless God, in very good health. I beg your prayers for them and me, which I set a high value on. Mrs. Hewitt (her faithful attendant) sends you her best compliments and good wishes. My address is at Hope Park, near Edinburgh, to the care of Mr. Walter Colville, at his house at the foot of Niddry’s Wynd.”
She returned to London in the summer of 1753, leaving the children in the care of their faithful nurse; but, notwithstanding all the care of the latter, Sholto Thomas Stewart, the younger of the twins, who had always been feeble and sickly, died at Hope Park, “near the Meadow.” This child was said to be the image of his mother. She hurried to Edinburgh, worn out by hardship, fatigue, starvation, and, as Dr. Pringle of the Guards alleged, dying of a broken heart. She expired on the 22ndof November, 1753.
Four hours before her death she desired Archibald, the future Lord Douglas, to be brought before her, and laying her hands on the weeping boy’s head, she said –
“God bless you, my child! God make you a good and honest man, for riches I despise.” Then, as the old Douglas spirit glowed within her, she added: “Take a sword in your hand, and you may one day be as great a hero as some of your ancestors.”
Archibald, though barbarously expelled from the carriages at his mother’s funeral, found friends, who educated and supported him as befitted his rank; and his father having succeeded to the baronetcy and estates of Grantully, though he married a daughter of Lord Elibank, executed a bond of provision in his favour for upwards of £2,500, and therein acknowledged him as his son by Lady Jane Douglas. Still the duke, more rancorous than ever, repudiated him as his nephew, and in the hope of having heirs of his own body, in 1758 he married Miss Douglas of Mains, who, to his increased indignation, became so warm an adherent of the alleged foundling, that His Grace separated from her for a considerable time.
In 1761 a fatal illness fell upon the duke, and as death came nigh, he repented of all his conduct to his dead sister, and as reparation he executed a deed of entail of his entire estates in favour of the heirs of his father, James, Marquis of Douglas, with remainder to Lord Douglas Hamilton, brother of the Duke of Hamilton, “and supplemented it by another deed, which set forth that, as in the event of his death without heirs of his body, Archibald Douglas, alias Stewart, a minor, and son of the deceased Lady Jane Douglas, his sister, would succeed him, he appointed the Duchess of Douglas, the Duke of Queensberry, and certain others whom he named, the lad’s tutors and guardians.”
Thus the penniless waif of Hope Park End became the heir of a peerage and a long rent-roll; but the house of Hamilton repudiated his claims, while his guardians resolved to enforce them. It was suggested by the former that the whole story of the birth of twins was a fabrication, and all Paris was ransacked in support of this allegation, and that the two children had been stolen from their French parents. The Edinburgh Advertiser for June, 1764, records the death of Sir John Stewart of Grantully, at Murthly. Prior to this, he affirmed on oath before competent witnesses, “as one slipping into eternity, that the defendant (Archibald Stewart) and his deceased twin-brother were both born of the body of Lady Jane Douglas, his lawful spouse, in the year 1748.” In 1767 the case came before the whole fifteen judges; seven voted for the claimant, and seven against him. The Lord President, who had no vote save in such a dilemma, voted for the Hamilton or illegitimacy side, and thus deprived Archibald Douglas-Stewart of fortune and rank; but this decision was reversed in 1769 by the House of Lords, and the son of Lady Jane succeeded to the princely estate of his uncle, the Duke of Douglas, whose name he assumed, and was created a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Douglas of Douglas Castle, in Lanarkshire, in 1790. He died in 1827.
Another waif of the nobility was resident at Hope Park End in the early years of this century – at least, before 1811. This was Hugh, thirteenth Lord Semple, who had lost his estates and come signally down in the world in many ways. He was born in 1758, and succeeded his father in 1782. He was a lieutenant of the Scots’ Guards in 1778, and a captain in 1781, and was said to have been obliged to leave the regiment through having incurred the displeasure of George III. by his political opinions. He died in very indifferent circumstances in 1830, in his seventy-second year.
In “The Hermit in Edinburgh,” 1824, a writer, who sketched with fidelity the real characters of his own time, tells us of a recluse, or mysterious old gentleman, who dwelt at Hope Park End, and was known as “the Chevalier.” He was pensive and sweet in manner, and wore a garb of other years, with a foreign military order; his locks were white, but his face was Scottish; he had the bearing of a soldier, and, like the Baron of Bradwardine, used French phrases. He had lost nearly his all in the French Funds at the Revolution in 1789.
His lodgings consisted of one room in a flat; “a broadsword, a real Andrea Ferrara blade, hung by his bed-side, and over the clock (a very old French one), on the chimney-piece, were attached a broken pipe and withered rose.” The pipe was the gift of a comrade, and a secret story attached to the withered rose; but, the writer adds, “when he handed me his snuff-box, the miniature on the lid told everything – a blue bonnet, a white rose in it, the graceful flowing tartan, and the star upon the breast.” He was the son of a Jacobite exile, whom none knew; but when he died, he had nothing to bequeath to his friend but his foreign cross, the snuff-box, the claymore, and the pipe, and his story, whatever it was, died with him.
The Archers’ Hall, in this district, is famous as being the head-quarters of the Royal Company of Archers, or King’s Body Guard for Scotland.
This remarkable corps, which takes precedence of all royal guards and troops of the line, is composed entirely of nobles and gentlemen of good position, under a captain-general, who is always a peer of the highest rank, with four lieutenants-general, four majors-general, four ensigns-general, sixteen brigadiers, an adjutant, and surgeon.
The ancient records of the Royal Company having perished by fire about the beginning of the eighteenth century, little is known of its constitution prior to the time of Queen Anne. A society for the encouragement of archery was first formed in the reign of Charles II., by order of the Secret Council, in 1676, though with what military utility at that time is not very apparent; its seal bore Cupid and Mars, with the motto, IN PEACE AND WARR. They were ordered to “be modelled and drawn up in a formal company, with drums and colours, whereof the officers are to be chosen by the said Counsill, and which company, so formed, shall meet on the Links of Leith,” or elsewhere; each archer, “with sufficient shuting graith, carrying the Company’s seal and arms in their hatts or bonnets as their proper cognisance.”
The Marquis of Athole, with the Earl of Kinghorn and Lord Elphinstone, commanded, and the Scottish Treasury gave a prize worth £20 sterling to be shot for. This corps, sometimes called the King’s Company of Archers, frequently met during the reigns of Charles II. and James VII., but little can be traced of it after the Revolution.
Upon the accession of Queen Anne and the death of the Marquis of Athole, they elected as a captain-general the famous Sir George Mackenzie, then Lord Tarbat, and Secretary of State, and afterwards Earl of Cromartie. Having judiciously chosen a leader of powerful influence and approved fidelity, they obtained from Queen Anne, on the 6th March, 1704, a charter under the Great Seal of Scotland, erecting them into a royal company, receiving and ratifying in their behalf the old laws and acts in favour of archery; giving them power to enrol members, to select a council, and choose their own leaders; “as also of convening in military fashion, by way of weapon-shaw, under the guidance of their own officers… and of going forth as often as to it shall seem proper, at least once in each year, about Midsummer, to shoot arrows with a bow at a butt.” (“Laws, &c., of the Royal Company of Archers” – J. B. Paul’s Hist., &c.). The magistrates of Edinburgh soon after gave them a silver arrow, to be shot for yearly.
These new rights and privileges they were appointed to possess after the mode of a feudal tenure, and to hold them in free gift of her Majesty and her successors, paying therefor an annual acknowledgment of a pair of barbed arrows.
Such an organisation as this proved too tempting for the Jacobites to omit utilising it for eventual military purposes, and thus when, in 1714, the critical state of the country and the hopes and fears of opposite factions were roused by the approaching death of Queen Anne and the distracted state of her ministry, an unusual amount of vigour inspired the Royal Company of Archers. Their laws were extended on vellum, adorned with festoons of ribbon, and subscribed by all the members; and they did not hesitate to engross in their minute book, in terms not to be misunderstood, that on his birthday they drank to the health of the exiled James VIII.
They still carry a pair of colours. The first bears on one side Mars and Cupid within a wreath of thistles, with the motto mentioned; on the other is a yew-tree, supported by two archers, with the motto, Dat gloria vires. The second colour has on one side the royal standard, or lion rampant, with a crowned thistle and the national motto, Nemo me impune lacessit. On the other side is St. Andrew on his cross, with a crown over all, and the then very significant motto, Dulce pro patria periculum.
On the 14th of June the Earl of Cromartie, then upwards of eighty years of age, as captain-general, and the Earl of Wemyss as lieutenant-general, marched at the head of the Royal Archers, with colours flying, from the Parliament Square to Holyrood, and thence to Leith, where they shot for the Edinburgh Arrow, and returned with similar parade, receiving from all guards and troops the honours that are paid to the regular army; but in the following year (1715), the Earl of Cromartie being dead, they were led by the Earl of Wemyss to a similar parade.
On the 16th of June a letter addressed to Wodrow says:- “Upon Monday last the Royal Company of Archers, consisting of about 200, all clad in the old Scottish garb, made their parade through this town and in Leith; they all consist of Jacobites, except five or six. At night they came to the playhouse, and betwixt the acts they desired Sir Thomas Dalzell (who is mad) to order the musicians to play that air called ‘Let the King enjoy his own again.’ After it was over, the whole house clapp’d 3 times lowd, but a few hissed.”
These facts serve to show that what was called the Royal Company of Archers all through the reigns of Anne and George I. was really a sodality, composed exclusively of the Jacobite aristocracy – in short, a marked muster for the House of Stuart. Their leaders were, and have been always, nobles of the highest rank; they had “their adjutant and other officers, their colours, music, and uniforms, and pretty effective military organisation and appearance.” (“Dom. Ann.”)
Their dress was tartan, trimmed with green silk fringe; their bonnets were trimmed with green and white ribbons, with St. Andrew’s cross in front; their horns and swords were decorated with green and white ribbons, and the dresses of the officers were laid over with rich silver lace. We are told that “the cavalier spirit of Allan Ramsay glowed at seeing these elegant specimens of the Aristoi of Scotland engaged at butts and rovers, and poured itself forth in verses to their praise.”
After the futile insurrection of 1715, the Archers made no parade for nine years; but on James, Duke of Hamilton, K.T., being chosen captain-general, they marched to Musselburgh in 1724, and afterwards occasionally till the 10th July, 1732, when they had a special parade, in which the Jacobite element greatly predominated. A guard of honour brought the colours from the Duke of Hamilton’s apartments at Holyrood, when the march to the Links began under his Grace as captain-general, preceded by Lord Bruce “on horseback, with fine Turkish furniture, as major-general, in absence of the Earl of Crawford.”
“The Lord Provost and magistrates saw the procession from a window, and were saluted by the several officers, as did General Wade from a balcony in the Earl of Murray’s lodgings in the Canongate. The Governor of Damascus came likewise to see the ceremony. Betwixt one and two the company arrived in the Links, whence, after shooting for the arrow (which was won by Balfour of Foret), they marched into Leith in the same order, and after dinner returned to the city, and saw acted the tragedy called Macbeath.” (Caledonian Mercury, 1732.)
Including the sovereign’s prize, there are seventeen shot for annually by the archers. Among these are the City of Edinburgh silver arrow, given in 1709, and the Musselburgh silver arrow, which appears to have been shot for so far back as 1603. As in the instance of many of the other prizes, the victor retains it only for a year, and returns it with a medal appended, and engraved with a motto, device, or name. The affairs of the Guard are managed by a preses, six councillors, a secretary, and treasurer. The rules say “That all persons possessed of Scottish domicile or of landed estate in Scotland, or younger sons, though not domiciled in Scotland, of a Scottish landed proprietor qualified to act as a commissioner of supply, are eligible for admission to the royal company.”
After the battle of Culloden and the decay of Jacobitism, the vigour of the Archer Guard declined, till some new life was infused into its ranks by William St. Clair of Roslin, and then it was that the present Archers’ Hall, near Hope Park End, was built. There an acre of ground was feued from the city, at a feu of £12 yearly, with double that sum every twenty-fifth year, and the foundation stone was laid by Mr. St. Clair on August the 15th, 1776.
The dining-hall measures 40 feet by 24, and is 18 feet in height. There are two other rooms about 18 feet square, with other apartments, kitchen, &c. The last most important appearances of the Royal Archers have been on the occasion of George IV.’s visit in 1822 – when they wore the old tartan costume, which was afterwards replaced by tunics of Lincoln green, – on the visit of Queen Victoria, and the first great volunteer review in the Royal Park.
An old gable-ended house, the windows of which looked westward along the vista of the Meadows, and their predecessor, the Burgh Loch, was traditionally said to have been inhabited by George Heriot, but was removed in 1843, when the Messrs. Nelson built there an establishment, which, for printing, publishing, and bookbinding together, was the most extensive in Scotland. His initials, G. H., cut in wood, remained in several parts of the house. The Rev. Dr. Steven, governor of the hospital, presented a coloured drawing of the house to the Messrs. Nelson, as “the country residence of the founder of the hospital.” It perished in the fire of 1878, but another is preserved.
The house was also, about 1800, the abode of an aged lady, well known to those of Jacobite proclivities in Edinburgh, Mrs. Hannah Robertson, an alleged grand-daughter of Charles II., and whose sister was ancestress of the Mercers of Gorthy. She died in 1808.
The well-known firm of the Messrs. Nelson and Sons was originally established by the late Mr. Thomas Nelson, whose first business premises were in a small corner shop at the head of the West Bow, only lately removed, where he published cheap editions of the “Scots Worthies,” Baxter’s “Saints’ Rest,” and similar works; but it was not until his sons entered the business that the work of the firm was placed upon a wider basis.
Mr. Nelson was born at a village called Throsk, near Stirling, in 1780. When twenty years of age he went to London, and after experiencing his own share of difficulties, familiar to young men in pushing their way in the world, he at last entered the service of a publishing house in Paternoster Row. This determined the course of his career. One of his early associates in London was the late Mr. Kelly, publisher, afterwards raised to the Lord Mayor’s chair. Mr. Nelson had begun by this time to show that love for the standard works of the old theological school which characterised him in after life. He remained for some years in London, and then came to Edinburgh, where he soon signalized himself as a publisher.
Cheap issues are a common feature of the publishing trade of the country now, but it was otherwise in the beginning of the century, and he was among the first to introduce the new order of things by the publication of works like those of Paley, Leighton, Romaine, Newton, and many others.
For several years in the latter part of his life he was more or less of an invalid. He died, at the age of eighty, on the 23rd of March, 1861. He lies buried in Edinburgh in the Grange cemetery, next to the grave of Hugh Miller.
The Messrs. Nelsons’ range of offices at Hope Park were on a scale surpassing any similar place of business in Edinburgh, as it consisted of three conjoined blocks of neat and plain design, forming as many sides of a square. In the main building were three floors, and machinery was used wherever it was available, and by means of that and an admirably organised system of the division of labour, the amount of literary work turned out was enormous. The process of stereotyping, which was invented by Mr. William Ged, a goldsmith in Edinburgh, and has been brought to the highest perfection in the place of its birth, was here greatly in practice. By 1870 the Messrs. Nelson employed fully 600 workpeople, the half of whom were young women, and on their own premises they manufactured all the inks used in printing, and the varnishes for bookbinding.
The whole of their extensive premises were destroyed by a calamitous fire, after which the Messrs. Nelson erected new offices and workshops upon several acres of land, known as Parkside, with a fine frontage to the old Dalkeith Road, south of “The Castle of Clouts,” and near what was called of old the Gibbet Toll.
Erected by the Messrs. Nelson in 1881, two handsome pillars, surmounted respectively by the Unicorn and Lion, now ornament the entrance to the Melville Drive at the east end of the Meadows. These pillars stand near the site of their former premises, and were erected as a gift to the city, in commemoration of the kindness and sympathy shown to them by the magistrates at the time of the great fire.