Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 119 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EARLS OF GLENCAIRN. The 1st earl of Glencairn in the Scottish peerage was ALEXANDER CUNNINGHAM (d. 1488), a son of Sir Robert Cunningham of Kilmaurs in Ayrshire. Made a lord of the Scottish parliament as Lord Kilmaurs not later than 1469, Cunningham was treated earl" of Glencairn in 1488; and a few weeks later he was killed at the battle of Sauchieburn whilst fighting for King James III. against his rebellious son, afterwards James IV. His son and successor, ROBERT (d. c. 1490), was deprived of his earldom by James IV., but before 1505 this had been revived in favour of Robert's son, CUTHBERT (d. c. 1540), who became 3rd earl of Glencairn, and whose son WILLIAM (c. 1490—1547) was the 4th earl. This noble, an early adherent of the Reformation, was during his public life frequently in the pay and service of England, although he fought on the Scottish side at the battle of Solway Moss (1542), where he was taken prisoner. Upon his release early in 1543 he promised to adhere to Henry VIII., who was anxious to bring Scotland under his rule, and in 1544 he entered into other engagements with Henry, undertaking inter cilia to deliver Mary queen of Scots to the English king. However, he was defeated by James Hamilton, earl of Arran," and the project failed; Glencairn then deserted his fellow-conspirator, Matthew Stewart, earl of Lennox, and came to terms with the queen-mother, Mary of Guise, and her party. William's son, ALEXANDER, the 5th earl (d. 1574), was a more pronounced reformer than his father, whose English sympathies he shared, and was among the intimate friends of John Knox. In March 1557 he signed the letter asking Knox to return to Scotland; in the following December he subscribed the first " band " of the Scottish reformers; and he anticipated Lord James Stewart, afterwards the regent Murray, in taking up arms against the regent, Mary of Guise, in 1558. Then, joined by Stewart and the lords of the congregation, he fought. against the regent, and took part in the attendant negotiations with Elizabeth of England, whom he visited in London in December 156o. When in August 1561 Mary queen of Scots returned to Scotland, Glencairn was made a member of her council; he remained loyal to her after she had been deserted by Murray, but in a few weeks rejoined Murray and the other Protestant lords, returning to Mary's side in 1566. After the queen had married the "earl of Bothwell she was again forsaken by Glen-cairn, who fought against her at Carberry Hill and at Langside. The earl, who was always to the fore in destroying churches, abbeys and other " monuments of idolatry," died on the 23rd of November 1574. His short satirical poem against the Grey Friars is printed by Knox in his History of the Reformation.

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