Picture of Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

places mentioned

Appendix IV: Of the Murder of a Laird of Innes

Next Selection Previous Selection

A P P E N D I X.


Of the Murder of a LAIRD of INNES,
as relatd in the Old Account.

JOHN Lord Innes , having no children, settles his estate upon his next heir and cousin Alexander Innes of Cromy , and seems to suffer him to enjoy his title and possessions in his life time. Robert Innes of Innermarky , another cadet of the family, is disgusted to see Innes of Cromy endowed with so much power and preferred to him. He alarms Lord John , and makes him repent so far of what he had done, that he joins in conspiracy with Innermarky to assassinate his cousin Alexander . The author says, "John being brought over to his minde (viz. Innes's of Innermarky) there wanted nothing but a conveniency for putting yr purpose to execution, which did offer itself in ye month of Apryle 1580, at wch tyme Alex , being called upon some business to Aberdeen was obliged to stay longer there then he intended, by reasone that his only sone Robert a youth of 16 yeirs of age hade fallen sick at the college, and his father could not leave the place untill he saw qt became of him. He hade transported him out of the old toune, and hade brought him to his own lodging in the new toune; he hade also sent several of his servants home from tyme to tyme to let his Lady know the reasone of his stay, by means of these servants it came to be known perfectly at Kinnardy in qt circumstance Alexander was at Aberdeen , qr he was lodged, and how he was attended, which invited Innermarky to take the occasione. Wherefore getting a considerable number of assistants with him, he hade Laird John ryde to Aberdeen : they enter the toun upon the night, and about middnight came to Alexander's lodgeing.

The outer gate of the closs they found oppen, but all the rest of the doors shutt; they wer afraid to break up doors by violence, least the noise might alarm the neighbourheed, but choised rather to ryse such a cry in the closs as might obleidge those who wer within to oppen the door and see qt it might be. The feuds at that tyme betwixt the familys of Gordone and Forbes wer not extinguished, therfor they rysed a cry, as if it hade been upon some out fall among these people, crying help a Gordon, a Gordon , which is the gathering word of the friends of yt familie.

Alexander , being deeply interested in the Gordon , at the noise of the cry started from his bedd, took his sword in his hand and oppened a back door that led to ye court below, stept down three or four steps and cryed to know qt was the matter. Innermarky who by his word knew him, and by his whyt shirt decerned him perfectly, cocks his gun and shootts him through the body in ane instant. As many as could get about him fell upon him and butchered him barbarously. Innermarky perceaveing in the mean tyme yt Laird John stood by, as either relenting or terified, held the bloody dagger to his throatt that he hade newly taken out of the murthured body, swearing dreadfully yt he would serve him the same way if he did not as he did, and so compelled him to draw his dagger and stab it up to the hilts, in the body of his nearest relatione, and the bravest that boare his name. After his example all who wer ther behooved to do the lyke, that all might be alyke guilty; yea in prosecutione of this, it has been told me that Mr. John Innes , afterwards Coxtoune , being a youth than at schooll, was rysed out of his bedd and compelled by Innermarky to stab a daggar unto the dead body, that the more might be under the same condemnatione; a very crafty cruelty.

The next thing looked after was the destruction of the sick youth Robert , who hade lyein yt night in a bedd by his father, but upon the noyse of qt was done, hade scrambled from it, and by the help of one John of Culdreasons , or rather of some of the people of the houss, hade got out at ane unfrequented bak door into the garden, and from yt into a neighbour's hooss, qr he hade shaltered; the LORD in his providence preserveing him for the executing vengence upon these murthurers for the blood of his father.

Then Innermarky took the dead man's signet ring, and sent it to his wife, as from her husband, by a servant whom he hade purchased to that purpose, ordering her to send him such a particular box qch contained the bond of Tailie , and all yt hade followed thereupon betwixt him and Laird John , whom the servant said he hade left wt his mr at Aberdeen : and yt for dispatch he hade sent his best hors with him, and hade not taken leasure to writ, but sent the ring. Though it troubled the woman much to receave such a blind measage, yet her husband's ring, his own servant and his horses, prevailed so with her, togither with the man's importunity to be gone, that shee delivered to him qt he sought, and let him go.

There happened to be then about the houss a youth related to the family, who was courious to go to the lenth of Aberdeen , and see the young Laird who hade been sick, and to whom he was much addicted. This youth hade gone to the stable to interceed with the servant that he might carrie him behind him, and in his discourse hade found the man under great restraint and confusion of minde, sometyme sayeing he was to go no further than Kinnardy (which indeed was the truth) and at oyr tymes that he behooved to be immediately at Aberdeen .

This brought him to be jealous, though he knew not qt , but further knowledge he behoved to have, and therfor he stept out a little beyond the entry, watching the servant's comeing, and in the by going sudently leapt on behind him, and would needs either go alonges with him, or have a satisfieing reasone, why he refussed him.

The contest became such betwixt them, that the servant drew his durk to ridd him of the youth's trouble, qch the other wrung out of his hands, and down right killed him wt it, and brought back the box wth the writs and horse to the house of Innes (or Cromie , I know not qch .)

As the lady is in a confusione for qt hade fallen out, ther comes aneother of the servants from Aberdeen , who gave ane account of the slaughter, so that shee behooved to conclude a specially hand of Providence to have been in the first passage. Her next courss was to secure her husband's writts the best she could, and flee to her friends for shalter, by whos means she was brought wt all speed to the king, befor whom shee made her complaint. And qt is heir set doun is holden by all men to be true matter of fact.

The Earle of Huntly imediatly upon the report of the slaughter concerned himself because of his relatione to the dead, and looked out for his son, whom he instantly carried to Edinburgh , and put him for shalter into the family of the Lord Elphinstoune , at that tyme Lord high Treasurer of the kingdome.

Innermarky and Laird John , after the slaughter, came back to the Lord Saltoun's houss, who leived then at Rothimay , and is thought to have been in the knowledge of qt they hade been about, for certaine it is they wer supported by the Abernethys , ay untill the law went against them. From Rothymay they went with a considerable party of horses, and reposcest Laird John in all the parts of the estate of Innes . And Innermarky , to make the full use of qt he hade so boldly begun, did upon the seventein Maii 1580, which was 5 weeks after the slaughter, take from Laird John a new dispositione of the estate of Innes .

By what is said Innermarky may appeir to have been a man full of unrighteousness, craft and cruelty; yet some say for alleviatione of his fact, that he having his chieff's favour hade got the first disposition of his estate failieing airs of himself, but that Cromy had taken a posterior right and hade supplanted Innermarky , for qch he in revenge had killed him, &c. But falsness of the allegance (mean as it is) is plaine past contradictione, from the above narraitted writ,, qch was given to Innermarky but 40 days after the slaughter of Cromy .

For two full yeirs Innermarky and John hade possest the estate of Innes , strenthening themlelfs with all the friendship they could acquyre; but being in end declaired out lawes, in the 3d yeir Robert Laird of Innes , the son of Alexr , came North with a commission against them and all others concerned in the slaughter of his father. This Robert was a young man weil endued wt favour and understanding, which had ingaged the Lord Treasurer so far to wedd his interest, that he first weded the young man to his daughter, and then gott him all the assistance requisit to possess him of his estate, qch was no sooner done but he led wast the possessions of his enemies; burning and blood shed was acted by both partys with animously enough.

In the mean tyme Laird John had run away to seek some lurking place in the South, qr he was discovered by the friends of the Lord Elphinstoune , and by them taken and sent North to the Laird Robert , who did not put him to death, but took him bound to various sorts of performances, as appears by the contract betwixt them in Anno 1585: one gross was, yt he should deliver up the chartor chist, and all the old evidents, qch he and Innermarky had seased, and which I doubt if ever he faithfully did, els this relation hade been with less pains and more fully instructed.

As to Innermarky , he was forced for a while to take the hills, and when he wearied of that, he hade a retreat of a difficult access within the house of Edinglassy , qr he sleeped in little enough security; for in September 1584, his house was surprised by Laird Robert , and that reteiring place of his first entred by Alexander Innes , afterwards of Cotts , the same who some yeirs before had killed the servant who came from Innermarky with the false tokin for ye writs, and who all his lyfe was called Craigg in peirill , for venturing upon Innermarky then desperat, and whos cruelty he helped to repay it in its own coine; ther was no mercy for him, for slain he was, and his hoar head cut off and taken by the widdow of him whom he hade slain, and caried to Edinburgh and casten at the King's feet, a thing too masculine to be commended in a woman."

Thomas Pennant, A Tour in Scotland 1769 (London: Benjamin White, 1776)

Next Selection Previous Selection