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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Your very good friend,
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
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".