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❝ And God be with thee, Kirsty, my son, Where thou sits on thy nurse's knee! But an thou live this hundred yeir,
Thy father's better thou'lt never be.
"Farewell! my bonny Gilnock hall,
John murdered was at Carlinrigg,
Because they saved their country deir
Nane of them durst cum neir his hauld.
BALLAD OF JOHNIE ARMSTRANG.
THE Editor believes his readers will not be displeased to see a Bond of Manrent, granted by this Border freebooter to the Scottish Warden of the West Marches, in return for the gift of a feudal casualty of certain lands particularized. It is extracted from Syme's Collection of Old Writings, MS., penes Dr Robert Anderson, of Edinburgh.
BOND OF MANRENT.
Be it kend till all men, be thir present letters, me, Johne Armistrang, for to be bound and oblist, and be the tenor of thir present letters, and faith and trewth in my body, lelie and trewlie, bindis and oblissis me and myn airis, to ane nobil and michtie lord, Robert Lord Maxwell, Wardane of the West Marches of Scotland, that, forasmikle as my said lord has given and grantit to me, and mine airs perpetuallie, the non-entries of all and haill the landis underwritten, that is to say, the landis of Dalbetht, Shield, Dalblane, Stapil-Gortown, Langholme, and with their pertindis, lyand in the lordship of Eskdale, as his gift maid to me, thereupon beris in the self: and that for all the tyme of the nonentres of the samyn. Theirfor, I, the said Johnne Armistrang, bindis and oblissis me and myne airis, in manrent and service to the said Robert Lord Maxwell and his airis, for evermair, first and before all uthirs, mine allegiance to our soverane lord the King, allanerly except; and to be trewe, gude, and
lele servant to my said lord, and be ready to do him service, baith in pece and weir, with all my kyn, friends, and servantes, that I may and dowe to raise, and beand to my said lord's airis for evermair. And sall tak his true and plane part in all maner of actions at myn outer power, and sall nouther wit, hear, nor se my said lordis skaith, lak, nor dishonestie, but we sall stop and lett the samyn, and geif we dowe not lett the samyn, we sall warn him thereof in all possible haist; and geif it happenis me, the said Johne Armistrang, or myne airis, to fail in our said service and manrent, any manner of way, to our said lord, (as God forbid we do,) than, and in that caiss, the gift and nonentres maid be him to us, of the said landis of Dalbetht, Schield, Dalblane, StapilGortown, Langholme, and with the pertinentis, to be of no avale, force, nor effect; but the said lord and his airis to have free regress and ingress to the nonentres of the samyn, but ony pley or impediment. To the keeping and fulfilling of all and sundry the premisses, in form above writtin, I bind and obliss me and my airis foresaids, to the said lord and his airis for evermare, be the faithis treuthis in our bodies, but fraud or gile. In witness of the whilk thing, to thir letters of manrent subscrievit, with my hand at the pen, my sele is hangin, at Dumfries, the secund day of November, the yeir of God, MD. and XXV. yeiris.
JOHNE ARMISTRANG, with my hand at the pen.
The lands, here mentioned, were the possessions of Armstrong himself, the investitures of which not having been regularly renewed, the feudal casualty of non-entry had been incurred by the vassal. The brother of Johne Armstrong is said to have founded, or rather repaired, Langholm castle, before which, as mentioned in the ballad, verse 5th, they " ran their horse," and "brak their spears," in the exercise of Border chivalry.-Account of the Parish of Langholm, apud Macfarlane's MSS. The lands of Langholm and Staplegorton continued in Armstrong's family; for there is in the same MS. collection a similar bond of manrent, granted
by "Cristofer Armstrang, calit Johne's Pope," on 24th January, 1557, to Lord Johne Lord Maxwell, and to Sir Johne Maxwell of Terreglis, Knight, his tutor and governor, in return for the gift" of the males of all and haill the landis whilk are conteint in ane bond made by umquhile Johne Armistrang, my father, to umquhile Robert, Lord Maxwell, gudshore to the said Johne, now Lord Maxwell." It would therefore appear, that the bond of manrent, granted by John Armstrong, had been the price of his release from the feudal penalty arising from his having neglected to procure a regular investiture from his superior. As Johne only touched the pen; it appears that he could not write.
Christopher Armstrong, above mentioned, is the person alluded to in the conclusion of the ballad-" God be with thee, Kirsty, my son." He was the father, or grandfather, of William Armstrong, called Christie's Will, a renowned freebooter, some of whose exploits the reader will find recorded in another volume of this work.
Mr Ellis of Otterbourne has kindly pointed out the following instance of the ferocity of the Armstrongs, which occurs in the confession of one John Weir, a prisoner in the tolbooth of Edinburgh, under sentence of death, in 1700: "In May, 1700, John Weire went to Grandee Knows, (near Haltwhistle, in Northumberland,) to the mother of the four brethren the Armstrongs, which Armstrongs, and the aforesaid Burley, did cut the tongue and ear out of William Turner, for informing that they were bad persons, which Turner wrote with his blood that they had used him so."-Weire also mentions one Thomas Armstrong, called Luck i' the Bagg, who lived in Cumberland. The extent of their depredations in horse-stealing seems to have been astonishing.
SIR RALPH EVRE, or Ewrie, or Evers, commemo. rated in the following lines, was one of the bravest men of a military race. He was son of the first, and father of the second Lord Ewrie; and was himself created a Lord of Parliament during his father's lifetime, in the 35th year of Henry VIII. The ballad is apparently a strain of gratulation upon that event. The poet, or more probably the reciter, has made some confusion in the lineage, by declaring that his hero was "married upon a Willoughbé." His mother, however, was of that family, and he was "kin to the Nevil and to the Percy." He was ennobled by Henry, on account of the vigour with which he prosecuted the Border warfare. " But after harrying the Mers and Tiviotdale, and knocking at Edinburgh gate," Lord Ewrie was slain at the battle of Ancram Moor, fought between him and the Earl of Angus, in 1546.' See Note to the Eve of St John,-post.
1 [He was buried in Melrose Abbey, and his stone coffin may still be seen there a little to the left of the Great Altar.—ED.]