Chapter III.


We now turn our attention to the Scottish branch of the Sixth Language. As already stated it outlived the parent stem. It is here and here only that we have an unbroken chain of existence. Here Henry VIII. of England had no jurisdiction; here the European resolution had no effect; here there was no necessity to suppress the Order on account of the religion of the Knights, they being foremost amongst the reformers.

The Order was introduced into Scotland by "the sore saint," King David I. (1124-1153). James VI., when viewing the tomb of his great ancestor in Dumfermline, referred to him as "King David," when one of his nobles reminded him that it was "St. David," James replied "Aye, he was a sore saint for the crown." The first preceptory was established at Linlithgow, and in due course the Order was governed by a Grand Priory called the Grand Priory of Torphichen. The grand Prior had a seat in Parliament under the appropriate title of Lord St. John. He was by virtue of office a member of the Grand Chapter, or Supreme Council of the Sixth Language, a body which was presided over by the Grand Prior of England.

The Scottish Knights do not appear to have had the same zeal for crusading which characterized their Continental brethren. Probably the unsettled state of the country may account for their lack of zeal in this matter. When people have more than enough to do at home, they don't as a rule go abroad; and the civil wars of the thirteenth century kept the Scots very much at home. Yet they were not insensible to the spirit of the age, and they have left their mark on many places in the country. Thus Jordanhill, near Glasgow, has an interesting connection with the Crusaders. Some of the Knight Templars, after their return from Palestine, settled near Jordanhill at the village now called Temple. The general appearance of the district so reminded them of the country around the Jordan that they gave it the name of Jordanhill. A little west of Jordanhill is the village of Knightswood, which also owes its name to the Crusaders from its having been the forest in which the Knights hunted. Auchtermuchty, in Fifeshire, bears the name of a Knight of Malta. "My two uncles," says the late Captain Auchmuchty, of the 57th regiment, "Sir Samuel Auchmuchty, for sometime commander of the British forces in Dublin, and Sir Benjamin Auchmuchty, took much interest in the Knights of Malta. I have heard the latter frequently speak of them, and from traditions in my family, I know that our ancestors were originally Knights of Malta, and emigrated from there to Scotland. They founded a town in Scotland, called from them Auchtermuchty, and a sword is to this day preserved in our family, once the property of one of those Knights."

Again in the dying charge of King Robert the Bruce to Sir James Douglas, we have proof that the spirit of the Crusader was strong in that powerful monarchy and many of his followers. Calling Sir James to his bedside he thus addressed him, in the hearing of all who were present:--

"Sir James, my dear friend, none knows better than you how great labour and suffering I have undergone in my day for the rights of this kingdom. When I was hardest beset, I vowed to God that if I should live to see an end to my wars, and to govern this realm in peace, I would then go and make war against the enemies of our Lord and Saviour. Never has my heart ceased to bend to this desire, but our Lord has not consented thereto, for I have had my hands full in my days; and now at the last I am seized with this grievous sickness, so that, as you all see, there is nothing for me but to die, and since my body cannot go thither, I have resolved to send my heart there in place of my body to fulfil my vow. And now, dear and tried friend, since I know not in all my realm any braver knight than you, I entreat you for the love you bear me, that you will undertake this voyage and acquit my soul of its debt to my Saviour. For I hold this opinion of your truth and nobleness that whatever you undertake I am persuaded you will accomplish. I will, therefore, that as soon as I am dead you will take the heart out of my body and cause it to be embalmed, and take as much of my treasures as seems to you sufficient for the expenses of your journey, both for you and your companions; and that you carry my heart along with you, and deposit it in the Holy Sepulchre of our Lord, since my body cannot go thither."

At these words all who were present wept sore. Sir James could not at first speak for tears. When he was able to reply, he said:--

"Ah, most gentle and noble king, a thousand times I thank you for the great honour you have done me in making me the bearer of so precious a treasure. Most faithfully and willingly, to the best of my power, shall I obey your commands."

"Ah, gentle knight," said the King, "I heartily thank you, provided you promise to do my bidding, on the word of a true and loyal knight."

"I do promise, my liege," replied Douglas, "by the faith which I owe to God, and to the order of Knighthood." "Now praise be to God," said the King, "for I shall die in peace, since I know that the best and most valiant knight of my kingdom will perform that for me which I myself could never accomplish."

Shortly after Bruce's death, and in obedience to his master's dying request, Douglas set out for Jerusalem taking with him a goodly company of knights and squires. He bore the king's heart in a silver casket hung about his neck. On his passage to the East he learned that Alphonso, King of Spain, was waging war against the Saracens. Deeming that it came within his commission to embrace this opportunity of fighting against the infidel, he joined the Spaniards. The two armies met in array of battle close to Gibraltar. The King of Spain gave Douglas the command of his centre division. The Scots headed the charge, which was made with such success that the enemy were routed and the camp taken. While the Spaniards were engaged in plunder, the Scottish leader, at the head of the small band of his own knights, pursued the flying infidels. But, before he was aware, the Saracens rallied, and he was surrounded by a cloud of horsemen which thickened every moment. Taking from his neck the casket containing the Bruce's heart, he cast it into the thickest of the enemy, saying, "Now pass thou onward as thou wert wont, and Douglas will follow thee or die!" With that he made so furious an onset that he soon cleared a space about him, but his valour was in vain against the overwhelming numbers of the Saracens and he fell covered with wounds.

Not far from his dead body the precious casket was found. His surviving knights took him up with reverent care. His flesh was separated from the bones, and buried in holy ground in Spain. His bones were brought home to Scotland, and buried in his own church of Douglas. The heart of Bruce, shrined in the silver casket, was deposited in the Abbey of Melrose. Living that heart had been all for Scotland, and none but Scottish earth could be its meet resting place.

From the death of Scotland's royal saint (David I.), in 1153 till the conversion to Protestantism of Sir James Sandilands in 1553, exactly 400 years, there is little to record. At what date the Grand Priory was established in Scotland is, we fear, lost in the antiquity of the ages; but we have it on record that Archibald, Magister of Torphichen, held the office of Grand Prior in 1251, and his successors appearing in the following order, all of whom received their appointment from the Grand Master:--

Alexander de Welles, - appointed 1291.
Ranulph de Lindsay, - " 1298.
William de la More, - " 1315.
David de Marr, - - " uncertain.
Edward de Brenne, - - " 1386.
John de Rynnaige, - - " 1410.
Henry Livingstone, - - " 1449.
William Meldrum, - - " 1453.
William Knolles, - - " 1463.
George Dundas, - - " 1514.
Walter Lyndsay, - - " 1530.
James Sandilands, - - " 1547.

It was undoubtedly through the instrumentality of Grand Prior Sir James Sandilands--Lord St. John of that period, and the last holder of that long honoured title--that the reformation of the Order, which converted it from a popish confraternity to a Protestant fraternity in Scotland was effected. It certainly cannot be said of him that he hid his light under a bushel; when the light of the Sun of Righteousness penetrated his own soul, he reflected the brightness of that soul-saving light upon those around him. This distinguished reformer, liberator, and guardian of the regenerated Order, was the second son of Sir James Sandilands of Calder, and Marietta, daughter of Archibald Forrester of Corstorphine. He was initiated into the Order at Malta, and there received his knightly education under the eye of the Grand Master. He was recommended by Sir Walter Lyndsay, on his decease, as a person well qualified to succeed him in the office of Grand Prior of Scotland. He was accordingly appointed to that position by a bull of Grand Master Homedez, dated at Malta, April 2nd, 1547. He was an intimate friend of the great reformer John Knox, and had long been favourably disposed toward the reformers. By the persuasion of Knox he was led to publicly renounce the Roman catholic religion in 1553. M'Crie referring to him in his "Life of John Knox," states that--

"After his return to the south of the Forth he (Knox) resided at Calder House, in West Lothian, the seat of Sir James Sandilands, commonly called Lord St. John, because he was the chief in Scotland of the religious order of Military Knights, who went by the name of Hospitallers or Knights of St. John. This gentleman who was now venerable, for his grey hairs as well as for his valour, sagacity, and correct morals, had long been a sincere friend to the reformed cause, and had contributed to its preservation in that part of the country. In 1548, he had presented to the parsonage of Calder, John Spotwood, afterwards the reformed superintendent of Lothian, ho had inbibed the Protestant doctrines from Archbishop Cranmer, in England, and who instilled them into the minds of his parishoners, and of the nobility and gentry that frequented the house of his patron. Among those who attended Knox's sermons at Calder, were three young noblemen who made a great figure in the public transactions which followed--Archibald, Lord Lorne, who succeeding to the earldom of Argyle at the most critical period of the Reformation, promoted with all the ardour of youthful zeal, that cause which his father had espoused in extreme old age; John, Lord Erskine, afterwards Earl of Mar, who commanded the important fortress of Edinburgh Castle during the civil war which ensued between the Queen Regent and the Protestants, and died Regent of Scotland, and Lord James Stuart, an illegitimate son of James V., who was subsequently created Earl of Moray, and was the first Regent of the Kingdom during the minority of James VI."

We have noticed statements to the effect that it was at Calder House that John Knox first administered the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the Protestant form, but we are not anxious to lay claim to doubtful honours. According to M'Crie, this event took place in St. Andrews, in 1547--which date is prior to the conversion of Sir James Sandilands. But we will let M'Crie speak for himself--

"His (Knox's) labours were so successful during the few months that he preached at St. Andrews, that, besides the garrison in the castle, a great number of the inhabitants of the town renounced Popery and made profession of the Protestant faith, by participating of the Lord's Supper. This was the first time that the Sacrament of the Supper was dispensed after the reformed mode in Scotland, if we except the administration of it by Wishart in the same place, which was performed with great privacy immediately before his martyrdom."

Although Lord St. John had openly professed his acceptance of the Protestant faith, he continued to exercise all the functions of his office as Grand Prior, and as shown by the preceding quotation, his influence was over the best and foremost men in the country. Calder House, as the residence of the Grand Prior, would naturally be a rendezvous for the Knights of the Order, but as we have seen it was also a rendezvous of prominent politicians. Either these politicians were Knights of the Order, or the Order and the Grand Prior had an abnormal influence over them. It was under the protection of the Grand Prior that they received both their religious and political education. That two of his respected guests became Regent of the kingdom and a third entrusted with an important command under the reformed, or Protestant government, taken together with the duties entrusted to him personally, point very plainly indeed to the enormous influence he wielded, and wielded for good.

On October 1st, 1557, he was still in communication with the Grand master and Chapter at Malta. Thus proving conclusively that his conversion to Protestantism, did not in any way affect his relations with the body.

On February 17th, 1559, we find him as one of the signatories to the offensive and defensive treaty between Queen Elizabeth of England, and the Lords of the Congregation, i.e., the Scottish Protestant party.

When on August 24th, 1560, the Scottish Parliament abolished popery, the work of the reformers had been so well done that only three men raised their voice against the proposal, namely, the Earl of Atholl and Lords Sommerville and Borthwick.--"The clergy spake never a word." Lord St. John was on this occasion selected by Parliament to go to France and lay their proceedings before the Queen (Mary) for ratification. It is said that upon that occasion the Cardinal of Lorraine sought to load him with reproaches for his conversion to the Protestant religion, which step was, however, ably defended by that chivalric Knight to the utter confusion of the wily Cardinal.

The manner in which he carried out this rather delicate task, is best shown by the manner in which the Queen appreciated his services on this and other important occasions. On January 24th, 1563, we again find the Protestant Grand Prior and the Popish Queen face to face. This time he went at the request of the Grand Priory, to hand over to the Queen the lands and possessions of the Order, together with the dignity of Lord St. John, which he held as chief of the Order; and this for the purpose of freeing himself and his Knights from certain obligations to their Sovereign--a task which few men would care to take in hand.

The Queen accepted them in the most gracious manner, and in order to show her great respect for the man who thus divested himself of the rank and title of a peer, she returned to him as a personal gift the lands of Torphichen, and at the same time re-created him a peer of the realm under the title of Lord Torphichen.

From this time forward the Order has been separate from the State, and therefore from under the eye of the historian, a circumstance which forces us to be content with side-lights being shed across our path, while other matters are under review, until we again come into the full light of documentary evidence.

The first matter which presents itself to the mind of the thoughtful companion, is, did Sir James Sandilands resign the office of Grand Prior when he gave up the local dignity of Lord St. John, or did he retain office till his death in 1596? Some writers have assumed that he resigned, but we fail to see where the circumstances justify the assumption. The object of giving up the lands, etc., of the Order, was beyond doubt that the relations of the Order to the Crown would be that of civilians. Had the Grand Prior intended to resign, his renunciation of the Order would have secured the end in view without risking the displeasure of the Queen. His mission to the Queen was no personal matter, he was acting for the Order as a whole with a view to their continued existence apart from the State, and they obtained the object of their desire. The Order continued to exist, and whether Lord Torphichen continued to hold the office of Grand Prior or not, he positively did continue to be leader in the Protestant cause, where he led the same men as he led as Grand Prior. We have never seen any valid reason put forward as to why he should have resigned, while there are many reasons why he should have retained office: but we are content to rest our case on the fact that all the trouble he took in gaining release from State control, would have been superfluous had he intended to resign. We therefore conclude that he retained office till his death, on 29th March, 1596.

That the Order continued in a publicly recognised manner is shown by the fact that about the year 1572, David Seaton with a portion of the Scottish Knights separated themselves from the then Protestant fraternity. He retired to Germany where he died in 1591, the remnant of the seceders ultimately finding a shelter under the wing of the first lodge of Scottish Masons at Kilwinning, Ayrshire, where they introduced the Orders of St. John, which are still given in connection with (Blue) Masonry. We again get a glimpse of the Order in 1643, when it was reintroduced into Ireland for the protection of Protestants who had suffered so severely by the Irish rebellion of 1641. This was the Second grand Priory of Ireland, and be it noted, founded and established by the Grand Priory of Scotland. That this branch was still in existence in 1795 when the Loyal Orange institution was founded, is shown by the fact that at a very early date the Orange and the Black had become inseparably connected. In some cases separate warrants were held, while in others certain degrees were given under an Orange warrant, and those wishing to travel further had to apply to a Black Lodge. These facts point to two conclusions, 1st, That the Orange was a popular endeavour of the Knights of St. John to accomplish the object for which the Order had been re-established in 1643, namely:--The protection of Protestants, and is therefore the natural offspring of the Ancient Order. 1st, That the Knights of St. John were very lax in the performance of their duty when they allowed their degrees to be given under the jurisdiction of a body actually free from their control, although a friendly body, and it may be a body founded by them. That this was a blunder is now recognised and the practice forbidden. While endeavouring to be just in our criticism we must not forget to be generous. It was this blunder which brought about that close relationship which has kept the older Order alive, and without which it assuredly would long ago have shared the fate of the continental branches.

We will now turn our attention to documentary evidence; for this purpose we have had free access to all documents held by the Imperial Parent Grand Black Encampment of the Universe. Strange as it may appear, the oldest of these are of Irish origin, but before looking into the more ancient of them we will note one of semi-modern date. The report of the Third Grand Priory (or Lodge) of Ireland, or to be more correct, the report of a Committee to Grand Lodge on 11th April, 1850, re-- The newly instituted Grand Black Chapter of Ireland. In the report they refer to their own origin and antiquity coming through the Scottish reformers, and they assert, that--"The Order never was dissolved and that they held the chain of transmission which was perfect in all its links." Here we have an authoritative declaration of the unbroken continuity of the Order, from the time the political history of the country lost touch with the Order, until the time of giving their report, i.e. to 1850; and from the tenour of the report the Order was in a fully organized condition in 1807. This latter is implied, not stated, but the former general statement covers the period, so that we may not distress ourselves about the implication. We have before us while we write a very old copy of Rules belonging to the Royal Black Association (of Ireland), they are undated, but they must have been compiled prior to the year 1820, and may have been compiled as far back as 1795, which would only have necessitated a change of the monarch's name; which is common practice at the death of a monarch. In its "Prefatory Observations" it sets forth that "It should be understood that this Order is entirely detached from that of Orangemen (with the exception that no person unless he has passed the Degrees of Orange and Purple, can be admitted), and it ought not to be supposed, that it entrenches on the rights, privileges, or immunities of that system. It is calculated to instruct and inform those who are desirous of obtaining a knowledge of Divine Truth, and Sublime Mysteries, and to cultivate that harmony which should exist amongst true Protestants."

Part 2

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