ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Thomas Crawford - Scottish Gentleman

The Battle of Pinkie

The Scottish troops had thrown down so many pikes that the battlefield of Pinkie looked like a wood-yard. Most of the pikemen were dead or had run away. The rest, like young Thomas Crawford, were wounded, waiting for the English to cut their throats or take them prisoner.
It would be a very quick end to his career if his first battle proved to be his last, thought Thomas. If he lived he would always remember the Battle of Pinkie, 10th February 1547, as a lesson in how not to carry on a fight. Everything had gone wrong.
He blamed the Scottish commander most of all. The Duke of Chatelherault, Regent of Scotland, had begun by lining up his army in a safe position, on Edmonston Edge. This is a steep piece of ground above the River Esk. On their right was a marsh and on their left the sea beach where they had dug trenches and set up cannon.
The Scottish pikemen had formed into schiltrons, each comprising sixty-four men, with the spear points bristling in all directions like the spines of a hedgehog. All they had to do was to wait for the English to charge. Horses and riders would be spiked on the sharp points long before they got within sword distance and then the Scots would counter-attack with pike, dirk, claymore and pistol.
Instead, the Duke had decided to charge the English first. Down the slope went the Earl of Huntly's men, with a swarm of Highland bowmen on the flank near the sea.
The Scots had soon realised their mistake. A great salvo of cannon balls ripped into the charging Highlanders. It had come from the English fleet anchored in the bay where the ships' gunners were loading and firing as fast as they could. At such short range, with the ships lying in calm water, they could not miss. The first ranks of Highlanders were blown to bits and the rest fled.
The rest of the army had then tried to form up into schiltrons but they too were smashed by cannon fire from the English batteries ahead and from the great ships' guns on the left.
Those who had managed to plant their pike butts in the ground and make up their "hedgehogs" had to face new dangers. Many English footsoldiers were armed with arquebusses and they fired at close range into the tightly packed squares. When the cannon stopped firing, troops of English cavalry attacked. Some had circled the schiltrons, out of range of the spear points, shooting down the pikemen, firing and loading as they galloped.
Soon, gaps had formed in the bristling hedges of spears, and the English commander ordered the rest of his cavalry to charge. There were four thousand of them, the Gentlemen Pensioners of the Royal Bodyguard, the Northern Horse from the borders and a host of foreign horsemen too.
The Scottish leaders had realised that they were beaten as the mass of English cavalry charged among the broken schiltroms. The Duke of Chatelherault had been one of the first to ride off, with shouts of "treason" as he went, and the rest of the army were left to the mercy of the English.

Home to Drumry

Hours later, propped up in a lurching ammunition waggon with other wounded gentlemen, groaning as the wheels jolted over the rough track, Thomas began to realise that it was not only bad leadership that had lost the battle. They had been beaten at Pinkie because they were short of cannon, fire-arms and cavalry and because they were not trained to think as soldiers.
The English had captured fifteen hundred prisoners at Pinkie. Thomas was one of the lucky ones. His wounds soon healed and his father was able to pay his ransom, so it was not long before Thomas was riding back home to his father's house at Drumry, wondering about the future.
Thomas is Lawrence Crawford's sixth son and though it is customary for landowners to leave estates to their sons, it is unlikely that Thomas will inherit enough to make a living. It is for this reason that, at seventeen, Thomas decides he must make his own career.
One way is to become a soldier, and though his first battle had not been very successful, he knows that there are plenty of openings for an active man.
Scotland and France have been friendly for hundreds of years, and the kings of France have whole regiments of Scottish soldiers. Indeed, it was Scottish archers who marched alongside Joan of Arc as she rode in triumph to Rheims after beating the English in 1428.
With plans for his future in his head, Thomas makes his way westwards, following the old track that the Romans first made to Old Kilpatrick. Just past Castle Hill he turns down the steep road that winds through Peel Glen, over the narrow bridge and up the hill towards the Peel Tower of Drumry.
His father built the tower house in 1530, in the year that Thomas was born. It stands on high ground, so that a sentry looking out from it can see the hamlet of Drumry and a vast expanse of green fields and marshes beyond.

More on the Peel Tower of Drumry

The three-storey building is more like a castle than a house. Corbelled turrets swell out at each corner of the slated roof and the only breaks in the massive stone walls are narrow slits. A barmkin wall surrounds the courtyard, pierced by gun-ports and loop-holes.
A sentry in the north-west turret sees Thomas coming up the hill and, as he rides up, he finds the courtyard gate open and the two doors that guard the entrance to the tower unlocked.
The outside door has an outer skin of thick oak planks running vertically, and an inner skin of planks laid across, diagonally. Huge iron nails clench the massive planks together, making a pattern of nail heads on the outside.
The inner door is an iron grill and if any attacker does manage to break down the outer door he will find the inner yett an even harder obstacle.
The doors lead into a big, vaulted room used as a store house and a stable in times of danger. To reach the hall or living room Thomas has to climb a circular stair with uneven treads, holding the newel post with his right hand. A single spearman can hold off a whole army of enemies trying to climb that staircase.
As he climbs, Thomas thinks of the last time he stumbled up the narrow steps, on the heels of the messenger who had brought the Fiery Cross, just before the Battle of Pinkie.
The messenger had ridden in with a crowd of horsemen to bring the news that every man and boy between the ages of sixty and sixteen was to gather at Musselburgh. Thomas had looked with awe at the messenger and his staff with the red painted saltire on top. Anybody who disobeyed its command would be outlawed.
That night the hall had been full of excited men, anxious to hear the news and full of confidence for the coming battle with the English. On this evening, after the excitement of his return is over, he finds the house much quieter, and at the evening meal there are empty places and sadder voices.
The Crawfords and their retainers and servants all eat together in the same upstairs hall. The 'family sit at a linen-covered table at the end of the room, with a piece of rather faded tapestry behind them to take off the chill. Lawrence Crawford sits in a high-backed arm chair, the only chair in the room, while his family are seated on cushioned stools. The other men of the household sit on long benches set against the walls, and eat from trestle tables that can be folded up at the end of the meal.
The only furnishings are an aumry to hold the pewter dishes and the great silver salt fatt, a lyar (rug) before the blazing fire, a spinning wheel in the corner and a stand of armour.
The men eat heartily, spooning up oatmeal porridge and, as a special treat, a ladleful of stewed meat. They push aside their plaids because the room is hot, but each wears his blue bonnet. It is most impolite to eat uncovered, for their long shaggy hair is none too clean.
The Crawfords eat more elegantly, the main course being a dish of pullets served with prunes, and they drink French wine instead of ale. As they rinse their fingers after the meal Thomas tells his father of his desire to go abroad.
Lawrence Crawford likes the idea. There are plenty of Crawfords serving at the French court and among the French armies and he is keen that his youngest son should see the manners and customs of a different country. He decides to arrange for Thomas to serve in some great noble's household until he is able to win a post in
the Gendarmerie Ecossais.
This is the special regiment which was started in 1442 by King Charles VII of France. One branch of the regiment consists of the gendarmes (men-at-arms) who are a specially chosen group. Each man-at-arms has to be a gentleman by birth and an expert at fighting on horseback and on foot, and each has a following of foot-soldiers.
Another branch of the regiment is made up of archers, who are very often the younger brothers of the men-at-arms, waiting their turn to be promoted to "lance" or "man-at-arms". If Thomas can become a member of the gendarmes he will be in very good company.
For men of lesser rank there are other regiments too, such as the Scottish Light Cavalry, made up of Highlanders mounted on small fast ponies. They wear their native costume and the French sometimes make fun of their red bonnets, plaids, high boots and shaggy beards. They do not dare do so to their faces, however, for the Scottish Light Cavalry are feared on battle fields all over Europe.
Apart from becoming a highly-trained soldier, Thomas may gain other advantages from becoming a gendarme. A man-at-arms fighting for the king of France might win great rewards such as a pension or an estate. France is a rich country and there are many French nobles whose forefathers have come from Britain. The Count d'Oilencon, for example, is descended from an ordinary soldier called Williamson.

Off to France

It is not long, therefore, before Thomas finds himself on the road to Leith, riding one of his father's best saddle horses, while a servant, mounted on a rough pony, holds the leading rein of a pack-horse. Thomas's sea-chest, full of new clothes, is balanced across its panniers.
They soon arrive in Glasgow which is especially busy, for it is Tuesday and the market is in full swing. Farmers and traders come in from all parts of Scotland to sell their goods here.
Beyond Glasgow the road takes them on to Edinburgh, past Linlithgow and its royal palace.
There is no royalty staying there now, for the Queen Mother, Mary of Guise-Lorraine, lives either in Edinburgh or Stirling.
The going is rough, for the roads are mere tracks. Thomas is relieved when they finally reach Edinburgh and make their way to Leith. Here they find the galley that is to take Thomas to France, and receive a warm greeting from the captain.
Thomas, exhausted from his journey, stumbles to his cabin where he peels off his tight doublet, hangs his feathered hat on a hook and stretches out happily on the narrow bunk. Within minutes he is fast asleep.
The sound of a drum beating out a steady rhythm wakes him up and he looks out of the door of the poop cabin to see the towers and roofs of Leith gliding away into the mist. Below him, as he looks towards the prow, he can see rows of oarsmen tugging at the heavy sweeps, keeping time to he throb of the drum.
The overseers pace along the catwalk, long whips in their hands, ready to urge on any slave who does not pull his weight or loses the rhythm. The oarsmen, convicts sentenced by the laws of France to serve in the galleys, are rowing hard enough now, but they will tire later. They will be grateful if a favourable wind rises and the great square sail can be hoisted.
The four-day journey` passes very quickly and it seems no time at all before Thomas is at the Palace of St. Germain, clutching his letters of introduction and rolling a little in his walk as he marches along the great corridors. He is greeted by one of his cousins who has been at the French court for some time, and before long, the two young men are exploring the Palace together.

At the Court of France

He has seen nothing like this palace before. Scottish nobles and even Scottish kings and queens live in grim castles, with nothing to hide the bare stones but an odd tapestry on the wall and a handful of rushes or bent grass on the flags.
Here it is different. It seems that France is so peaceful a country that the nobility no longer need to hide behind drawbridges, portcullises and battlements. They have learned to build houses for comfort rather than strength.
Underfoot is a mosaic of polished tiles and on either side the smoothly plastered and painted walls are decorated with huge, colourful tapestries and paintings. In the vestibules are statues of marble and decorations of silver and gold.
Thomas stares in amazement at the luxurious surroundings as his cousin leads him through the Palace. Suddenly, he is pushed against the wall and told to bow low. The French royal family and a group of courtiers are passing along the corridor.
First come the men of the Garde Ecossais, the Scottish bodyguard, and Thomas is thrilled to recognise among them another of his Crawford cousins. The Guards are splendidly dressed, with white satin surcoats that glitter with silver spangles. Embroidered on back and front is a huge H, in silver, and a crown and the crescent moon (the special emblem of King Henry II). The surcoat has a high collar and wide epaulets.
They march down the corridor with great dignity, shoulders back and heads in the air, their eyes stern and hard beneath the steel brims of their tall plumed helmets. They are armed with enormous halberds and they seem to Thomas to be the tallest, broadest and most magnificent soldiers he has ever seen.
Behind them comes the king, Henry II. He is tall, broad, athletic, and paces along with an easy step. His dress is completely different from that of the guards, for he is wearing the Spanish style doublet and trunk hose of black velvet, heavily braided with vertical lines of gold braid. He wears a flat cap of black velvet decorated with pearls and a curling feather and, over the doublet, a short cloak edged with fifteen rows of gold cord. The trunk hose is slashed and padded and his muscular legs well displayed by leg-hose of white satin.
Henry's beard and moustache are closely trimmed and as he passes Thomas he gives him a long, slow, searching look before he smiles down at the two children with him.
The child on his right is a little boy of five, rather pale and ill-looking. Thomas guesses he must be the Dauphin Francis. The girl on the king's left is a little older and is tall and graceful, with auburn hair and a clear complexion. She chatters away happily to the king in French and Thomas realises with a little shock that she is the Queen of Scotland, Mary Stuart.
The lady behind, with black hair and swarthy skin, is the Queen of France, the Italian princess Catherine de Medici. She needs plenty of space to walk for her skirt is stiffened out with a Spanish farthingale to a width of five feet or more. Her costume is more colourful than the king's, with a close-fitting, gold head-dress, a high lace collar and a blue gown-square necked and with a tight bodice, worn over an under-dress of pink. This shows through in a V-shaped panel at the front and at the sleeves, which are trimmed with enormous ermine cuffs. The dress materials are covered with a lattice work of gold braid and embroidery.
Behind comes another magnificent figure, a tall, elegant man in the scarlet robes of a Cardinal of the Church. With him is an elderly lady, severely dressed in black, with a close-fitting coif. She walks very erect and her piercing glance seems to miss nothing.
As the procession passes along, Thomas's cousin whispers snippets of information. The little boy is of course Francis, whom Mary is to marry when she grows up. The Cardinal is Mary's uncle and tutor, the Cardinal of Lorraine and the old lady is Mary's grandmother, and mother of both the Cardinal and Queen-Mother of Scotland.
When the procession has gone by, Thomas's cousin takes him round the palace to see more wonders. Thomas's head is reeling by the end of the day and he is not at all surprised to learn that there are fifty-seven cooks busy in the royal kitchens. It is a relief when at last he is ready to set out for the lodging his cousin arranged for him. First, however, he has to see the mounting of the guard.
The cousins stand in an angle of the courtyard while the Garde Ecossais comes to take over the duty of guarding the palace during the night. Torchlight flickers on helmets, halberds and bearded faces as they step into line, and Thomas listens attentively as the guard commander calls the roll.
He hears many familiar names-Hamiltons, Grants, Montgomeries, Gordons, Nisbets, Humes, Douglases, Rutherfords, Moncrieffs, Stewarts, Ogilvies and Crawfords. They are all gentlemen of good birth and serving in the Garde Ecossais is the greatest honour they can receive.
Thomas wonders if he will ever join the company and win honour and renown. Perhaps he will be one of the guard when Francis and Mary are crowned king and queen. This is one of the greatest days for the Commander or First Captain of the Garde Ecossais, for he stands nearest the king at the coronation and receives the richly jewelled coronation robe as a reward.
The roll call ends and there is a great jangling of keys as the Guard Commander leads his men off to lock up the palace gates. The torch-bearers march off too and Thomas pulls his cloak tightly round him as he limps away to dream of the future. Thomas came to see his ambition fulfilled over the years. In the meantime he learns how to mix in the company of great people, and how to hold his own in the presence of kings and queens, nobles and courtiers, statesmen and politicians. Most important of all, he learns the art of soldiering, in court and camp and in the fighting that takes place down on the Spanish border.
By the age of twenty-four he has won the reputation of being brave, clever and trustworthy and his name is entered on the muster-roll of the Gendarmerie as Thomas Craffort.
There are many other Crafforts on the list also. The French clerks always have great difficulty with Scottish names. The same muster roll shows Andrew Cunningham as Andre Coniguan, John Winston as Jehan Vinston, and Thomas Inglis as Thomas Hingle.
There are sixty men-at-arms on the roll and eighty archers as well. In their company Thomas learns how to give and take orders, how to plan a campaign, how to weigh up the weak and strong points of a walled town or castle and how to lead in a battle or skirmish.
It is a splendid life and all that Thomas ever wished for, but it comes to an end too soon, with the death of King Henry II.
Strangely enough, it is the son of the Commander of the Scots Guard who accidentally kills King Henry II. Henry is a great athlete and sportsman and one of his favourite sports is jousting. Thomas never forgets the terrible day when the accident took place, at the end of a day of tournaments.
Just as the sport is ending Henry challenges the Commander's son to another joust. At first Gabriel Montgomery refuses, fearing, perhaps, that the king might be tired. He himself is a tall, tough, vigorous young man. In the end he agrees and they couche their lances and charge down the tilt yard.
The courtiers watch with interest. Both Montgomery and Henry II are skilled jousters and so covered with heavy armour that the worst they might expect is a few bruises if they are knocked from the saddle.
There is a crash as each man breaks his lance on the other's shield. That is the aim of the sport and the courtiers applaud. Then Henry falls forward over the high pommel of his horse's saddle. Splinters from Montgomery's lance have flown up under his visor and he collapses sense¬less as his charger finishes the run.
He never recovers consciousness and dies in a few days with his court physicians and his Scots Guard standing helpless round the huge four¬poster bed.

Laird of Jordanhill

Mary Stuart marries the Dauphin in 1558. At the age of eighteen, she is Queen of France as well as Queen of Scotland, but only for a very short time. A few months after their marriage Francis II falls ill and dies within a week.
In 1560 Mary decides to return to Scotland. Catherine de Medici's second son is now king and there is no place for Mary at court. Many Scots return home with the Queen and among them is Thomas Crawford.
During Thomas's twelve year absence from Scotland, a big change has taken place-most of the Scots have turned from the Roman Catholic faith and have become Presbyterian. When he reaches home he discovers that this change in religion, known as the Reformation, is going to alter his life enormously.
A few days after his return Bartholomew, the Roman Catholic priest of the Church of St. Mary in Drumry, comes to see him.
Thomas greets the old man with respect, sorry to see how time and worry have aged him. Bartholomew for his part is greatly impressed by the change in Thomas. The pale limping boy he remembers has changed into a bronzed, bearded soldier.
Bartholomew quickly comes to the point of his visit. Years before, the Crawford family had gifted the estate of Jordanhill to the Church. Now the Archbishop is gone and no one knows 'who is to govern the Church lands, and Bartholomew wishes to go into retirement. He is now sure that Thomas is the most suitable man to take over the estate and, without more ado, he passes over a bulky parchment-the title deeds of the lands of Jordan hill.
Thomas can hardly believe his good fortune. Instead of being a penniless younger son with nothing to his credit but a good name and a ready sword, he is now a landed gentleman¬Thomas Crawford of Jordanhill.
He realises that he will have to work to keep his land. There are plenty of wealthy and powerful men who have their eyes on Church lands and if any great noble or royal favourite takes a fancy to Jordanhill, Thomas will lose it. A Court of Law could easily be persuaded that Thomas has no real right to the land.
What he needs is the backing of some great nobleman who will help to defend his rights, and Thomas has to make himself known in Scotland.
The next year or two pass peacefully enough with the Earl of Moray looking after most of the affairs of Scotland. Thomas looks after his estate and takes an interest in the affairs of church and government. He also marries.
It is of little use winning new lands if he has no son to inherit from him and, besides, he has taken a fancy to Marion, daughter of Sir John Colquhoun of Luss. Now that he has lands of his own, to support a wife and family, he is a worthy suitor, and his horse soon learns the windings and turnings of the country road that runs by the shores of Loch Lomond-Marion's home.
Thomas's first child is a daughter, Marion. This means he needs the support of a great noble more than ever, as he still has no male heir and a number of people covet the lands of Jordanhill. Just after Marion's birth, Thomas has another stroke of good fortune; one of his relatives, the Earl of Lennox, is allowed to return to Scotland. His son, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, is to marry the Queen.
Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox, is just the master that Thomas is seeking. Thomas is not only his relative and a Lennox man, but a trained soldier and a courtier. The Earl wants servants like Thomas Crawford to carry out his business for him, for the lands of Lennox are widespread and there are all sorts of duties to undertake.
Thomas soon becomes one of the Earl's factors (land agents), along with John Houston and Archibald Crawford, and after a short time he is selected as the Earl's deputy, second only to the Earl's Chamberlain, John Cunningham of Drumquhassil.
The Earl writes a letter which gives Thomas the right to act in his place. It reads:

Be it kenned to all men by the present letter that we, Matthew Earl of Lennox, have made, constituted and ordained our well-beloved servitor and friend, Thomas Crawford of Jordanhill, our very lawful, undoubted and irrevocable agent, factor, errand bearer and special messenger.

The letter goes with Thomas on many journeys up and down the country, to law-courts and council chambers in Edinburgh, to grim castles and remote country houses. Some of the missions are secret and dangerous, for the Earl has many enemies, and it is just as well that Thomas knows how to guard his tongue.


Civil War

For a while Mary Stuart and her husband, Lord Darnley, get on well together, but they finally quarrel bitterly and separate. There are rumours that Darnley is trying to kidnap the baby prince, James, and put Mary off the throne.
Thomas supports Darnley in his quarrel with Mary because Darnley is the Earl of Lennox's son. Thomas knows that Darnley may be in danger if Mary suspects the Earl of Lennox of plotting to seize Prince James.
It is partly for this reason that Thomas is worried when Mary visits Darnley, who is lying ill in Glasgow. He is even more concerned when, on visiting Darnley himself, he learns that Mary has persuaded her husband to return to Edinburgh where he is to stay in Craigmillar Castle.
His fears are indeed justified for, a few weeks later, he hears the news that Darnley is dead. The house he was staying in, in Kirk o' Field, was blown apart in a great explosion but his body was found strangled in the garden.
The chief suspect is the Earl of Bothwell and many people are sure that Mary was in the plot to kill Darnley when they hear that Mary and Bothwell are married. The Scottish Lords are horrified and. raise an army which meets the Queen's forces in battle at Carberry Hill.
Here Mary surrenders and is taken off as a prisoner to Lochleven Castle. Meanwhile the baby James is declared king of Scotland and the Earl of Moray is made Regent.
These are bitter days for Thomas and he has to endure a double sorrow, for his young wife Marion dies. He does not have much time for mourning, however, for he is very soon called upon to serve the Earls of Lennox and Moray in their war against Mary's friends.
The real fighting begins when Mary escapes from Lochleven Castle and crosses over into Hamilton to collect an army. She has many supporters from Argyll and from the Hamilton country and she decides to head for Dumbarton Castle.
The Earl of Moray is much surprised by Mary's move, but he too gathers an army and marches to Langside where he defeats Mary's forces. She, by now desperate, flees to England to seek help from Queen Elizabeth.
Elizabeth does not help however. Instead she says that Mary must try to clear her name. A special Commission is set up to look at the evidence which the Scottish Lords have gathered together. They find a silver casket containing letters said to prove Mary knew of the plot to kill her husband. One of the letters was supposed to have been written on the night that Mary went to see Darnley in the old manse in Glasgow.
Thomas has to go down to Westminster to tell his story of what happened. The journey, made in December 1568, is long and uncomfortable. Swathed in heavy riding cloaks, their leather boots pulled well up and their hat brims drawn down against the snow and the rain, the party set off from Edinburgh, following the main road down the east coast.
Even in summer the road is no more than a track worn by the passage of men and animals. On low ground it becomes a sea of mud, set here and there with leg-breaking stones put down to fill the deeper holes. As they go the riders have to pick their way carefully among pools of mud or frozen ruts.
They pass through the old burghs of Haddington and Dunbar, and out on to the high, wild, Coldingham Moor. From Berwick they head for Newcastle and the south, but they find the English moors no warmer than the bleak, desolate Scottish moors.
It is just as cold when they reach the flat lands of the south-east, with bitter winds sweeping over the marshes. They meet very few people. Nobody travels in winter unless he has to, and Thomas is heartily glad when they reach London, after nearly fourteen days in the saddle.
He is used to dealing with great men and is not overawed by the English noblemen who make up the Commission. They ask him what happened when Mary went to see Darnley, to try to find out if Mary really had plotted her husband's death.
Thomas has thought out his words very carefully. He replies:

The King (Darnley) asked me what I thought of his voyage (the plan to go to Edinburgh). I answered that I liked it not, because she took him to Craigmillar, for if she had desired him with herself, she would have taken him to his own house in Edinburgh (the Palace of Holyroodhouse).
Therefore my opinion was that she took him away more like a prisoner than her husband. He answered that he thought little less himself. Notwithstanding, he would go with her, and put himself into her hands, and besought God to have mercy on both of them.

Mary's guilt is very clear to Thomas, but the Commissioners are not so sure. They weigh up all the evidence and decide that Mary's guilt is "not proven". They cannot decide whether she is guilty or not.
Even so, Elizabeth will not let Mary go and the Earl of Moray continues to be Regent of Scotland. The country is far from peaceful, however. Moray has many enemies among the Roman Catholics of the Highlands and south-west and among other Scots who want Mary back again as Queen. Soon there is a bitter civil war between the followers of Mary and the supporters of the Regent.
Mary's men still hold two of the great royal castles, Edinburgh and Dumbarton. The Regent tries first to take Dumbarton Castle, which is his chief worry. The governor of the Castle is a Hamilton and a friend of Mary and he is able to stop all ships sailing up and down the Clyde.
Moray tries to starve the garrison out in January 1570 but French ships sail in at the last minute bringing supplies of food. It is the Regent's last chance, for a few days later he is shot down by James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh while riding through the streets of Linlithgow.
The new Regent is Thomas's master, the Earl of Lennox. Queen Elizabeth advises him to try again to take Dumbarton Castle and the Earl sends for his advisers, John Cunningham and Thomas Crawford. Together they begin to work out a plan to take the Castle on the night of 31st March 1571.

Capturing the Castles

Thomas knows Dumbarton Rock and the Castle pretty well, but he must have exact information if the attack is to be successful. He passes word around among his followers and finally he finds the man he wants-a soldier who once served in the Castle. This man left the garrison after a quarrel in which his wife was accused of stealing and he now has a grudge against the keeper of the Castle.
Thomas talks the climb over with his guide, working out how many ladders they will need to reach a shallow ledge in the cliff, where a tree grows out of the rock face. They decide to climb the steep part of the Rock known as the Beak because the sentries will never expect an attack from that side.

Next, he chooses a hundred men from the small army who follow the Earl of Lennox. He picks them with care. They must be bold and experienced fighters, with good heads for heights, a knowledge of firearms and enough sense to keep their mouths shut until the attack is over.
At the same time he collects together the scaling equipment he will need-ladders, ropes and iron hooks to throw over the battlements.
The men gather in Glasgow an hour before sunset. John Cunningham has already set off with a troop of horsemen to prevent anyone giving news to the garrison. John finds that most of the garrison troops are drinking in the taverns of Dumbarton and he has no difficulty in posting his horsemen to cut off the Castle from help from the mainland.
Thomas leads his hundred men at a steady pace until they reach the hill of Dumbuck, just over a mile from the Castle. Here he halts them and explains what they are to do. Each man is to tie his hagbut on his back so that his arms are free and then they are to follow the man in front in single file. Thomas and the guide will go in the lead.
By now the night is pitch black and misty. He orders them to fasten ropes to the ladders and hold fast to them so that they cannot go astray, for they are to cross dangerous and difficult country. There are ditches, crevasses and streams ahead.
They pick up the ladders and set off again, holding on to the ropes. Thomas follows the guide closely, whispering orders to the man behind. He in turn warns the man behind when the track is dangerous. The most difficult part is at Gruggie's Burn, which is bridged only by a tree trunk stretched out over the deepwater.
Gradually they work their way round until they are on the far side of the rock, under the Beak. Here they have their first mishap when one of the ladders breaks. They lash the others together to make a tall scaling ladder sixty rungs high, and lay it carefully so that it points up the cliff face to the outgrowing tree and the ledge.
The ladder is not long enough. Twenty feet (six metres) of rock face lie between the top rung of the ladder and the tree. Thomas looks at the guide and points upwards. The man nods and they loop the coils of rope around their shoulders. They will have to try to reach the tree by climbing the cliff.
Thomas will never forget the ascent-groping his way up the wet rungs of the ladder with the damp mist swirling about him, testing the lashings which bind the ladder tops and climbing higher and higher. The ladders are very shaky but at least they give proper hand and foot holds. Soon he and his companion are inching their way up the Rock itself, feeling for finger-holds in cracks in the rock.
They press their bodies against the cliff face, stretching upwards to find a grip and then cautiously change their weight from foot-hold to hand-hold. Their one fear is that a sentry overhead might hear their approach, but no one hears.
At last they reach the ledge. Quickly they tie ; the ropes to the tree and lower them to their companions below. One by one they reach the ledge, while Thomas and the guide scout the way ahead. Though they have scaled the steepest part of the Rock they still have a long climb ahead.
Daylight begins to break before the last big stretch of rock has been climbed, so extra care is needed. There is a terrifying moment when a man collapses from some sort of fit as he is climbing one of the ladders.
The whole attack might have been discovered then but Thomas, more than ever thankful for his pieces of rope, climbs up to the unconscious man and coils the rope round both ladder and man, fastening him firmly to the rungs. Then he shins down and swings the ladder over so that the soldier is hanging from the underside.
Then comes the moment they have waited for. They swarm up the ladder and over the battlements. The sentry sees them and cries out but at that moment a cloud of mist spreads over the top of the Rock, blotting out the dawning light.
It gives the attackers just the time they need to carry out Thomas's plan. As the men of the garrison come running out from their beds, unarmed and unprepared, some of Thomas's men open a covering fire with their hag buts. Three of ' the garrison fall dead and in the meantime the rest of the attackers seize the cannon.
They swing the muzzles of the guns around so that they point at the soldiers of the garrison. Some manage to leap over the walls and escape into the mist. The rest surrender immediately. Dumbarton Castle is captured.
Mary's supporters have no intention of giving up. There is still the Castle of Edinburgh, defended by the great soldier, Kirkcaldy of the Grange, who has gone over to her side.
The Regent's men raid Edinburgh in July and Thomas gains more fame by leading his band of soldiers in a skirmish in Gallowlee against the Earl of Huntly's troops. He is given the right to add a motto to his coat-of-arms, "God show the Right". Already he has been awarded the honour of showing Dumbarton Castle on the Crawford arms and in addition he has been promised lands and money once the fighting is over.
Kirkcaldy is not content to sit in Edinburgh Castle and wait to be attacked. In September he learns that all the enemy leaders are in the burgh of Stirling and he sends out a raiding party to capture them. If he succeeds Mary will be Queen of Scotland once more.
About three hundred raiders gallop into Stirling at five in the morning, on 4th September. They make no secret of the attack but race through the streets shouting their war-cries, "God and the Queen", "A Hamilton", and "All is ours".
They know exactly where to find each leader and in a few minutes they seize the Earls of Glencairn, Argyll, Cassilis, Sutherland and Eglinton and capture the Regent, the Earl of Lennox.
Thomas is one of the first to awake. He runs to warn the garrison of the Castle and with other gentlemen he races down to the city gate.
They are just in time to rescue the captured earls, but too late to save Lennox. The man who seized the Regent, Captain Cader, has shot him rather than let him go free. Thomas helps to carry the wounded Earl up to the castle, but he dies soon after.
Thomas has lost a good friend and master but there is little time for sorrow. Before long he is leading forays into the great forest round Hamilton and there are desperate fights and hand-to-hand encounters all through 1572. On one occasion, the Hamiltons ambush him, and eight of his troop are killed. Most of the others are captured and Thomas has a hard time escaping himself.
Gradually Mary's supporters are worn down, and in May 1573 they decide to attack Edinburgh Castle. Thomas is one of the Captains who helps to plan and take part in the siege.
They all realise that Edinburgh Castle is too carefully guarded to be taken in the same way as Dumbarton Castle. They also remember the lessons of the battle of Pinkie, and they advise the new Regent, the Earl of Morton, to borrow artillery from the Queen of England.
The guns arrive on 25th April 1573. There are three shiploads of them, and they include a cannon royal-an iron monster weighing 8000 lb (3630 kg) which fires a 60 lb (27 kg) cannon ball. There are also four single cannon, each weighing 7000 lb (3182 kg), firing 40 lb (18 kg) cannon balls, nine smaller culverins and four potters, used to fire hollow shells full of explosive. In addition there are many smaller brass cannon and some artillery which has come from the castles of the Earls of Argyll and Buccleuch.
The besiegers set the cannon in place during the nights of 12th, 13th and 14th May, in preparation for the bombardment on Trinity Sunday, 17th May.
It takes five days of battering at the walls before the cannonade has its effect. First, David's Tower and part of the wall come crashing down and two days later the portcullis tower and the Wallace tower collapse, bringing down another great chunk of the wall.
It can be only a matter of time now. Once the castle walls are breached the besiegers can break through. Kirkcaldy beats off attacks from 26th to 29th May, but once the block-house is taken, he has to surrender. Mary's supporters are beaten at last.

After the Fighting

For Thomas, the siege of Edinburgh Castle is the last great battle, and he can now attend to his own private affairs. One day he receives a letter from King James VI. It is written in careful boyish handwriting and it reads:

Captain Craufurd; I have heard such report of your good service done to me from the beginning of the wars against my unfriends, as I shall some day remember the same, God willing, to your great contentment. In the meantime be of good comfort, and wait until that time with patience, being assured of my favour. Farewell. 1575. xv September.
Your very good friend,
James R.

Thomas is given rewards which will keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. He is to get a pension of £200 per year, as well as lands and corn-mills in Partick. The mills give him a very good income, for all the citizens of Glasgow use them and pay a fee for doing so.
He also takes over a new house in Glasgow and marries for the second time; to Janet Ker, the daughter of a landowner of Monkland. In 1571 they are given the chance to buy the manse of the Rector of Glasgow. This is a great three-storeyed house opposite the Bishop's Castle. Many other Protestant leaders buy houses there too, for the old manses, with gardens and orchards backing down to the Molendinar river, are large and spacious.
In 1577 he is made Provost of Glasgow and while he is in office he builds the first bridge over the Kelvin. It is a strong, stone bridge of four arches which is to last for over three hundred years.
The citizens are grateful to him. So are a number of poor students at the University, for in 1576, Thomas makes a grant to the University of sixteen bolls (a measure for grain) of oatmeal a year. This is enough to pay the fees and provide the food of one poor student.
Thomas and Janet have three children-Hugh, Cornelius and Susanna. Hugh is to inherit the precious lands of Jordanhill and his sons will carry on their grandfather's career of soldiering. Lawrence Crawford will fight in the Thirty Years' War (1618-48) as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Swedish army, before he joins the Roundhead side as a Major-General in the Civil War against Charles I. Thomas Crawford will become a Colonel in the Russian Army. Daniel Crawford is to become a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army until the Civil War breaks out. He then fights on the side of the Cavaliers and afterwards goes to serve the Czar of Russia, first as a Major-General and then as Governor of the City of Smolensk.
Thomas sells his Glasgow house to Lord Boyd in 1587, and goes to live in Renfrewshire, at Kilbirnie, where his ancestors come from. He dies there in 1603 and is buried in Kilbirnie Churchyard in a solid looking tomb he designed for himself. A great slab with his name carved on it lies on the ground beside the tomb.
The motto he won at Gallowlee is carved on the wall inside the Church: "God schaw the richt".

16th Century
Norman Nichol

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