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had acquired the lands of Hilton, but disposed of them
2 lb. cxv.
3 1. CXVI.
were married respectively to Sir James Cockburn of Ryslaw, Mark Ker of Moriston, Brown of Thornydykes, Hepburn of Beanston, and Dr. George Hepburn of Monkrig. Of John, the eldest son, we shall have something to
hereafter. The second son, Alexander, was in early life a soldier, and was taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester, fighting on the side of the King But he afterwards returned to civil pursuits, and was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates on the 27th of July 1671. Being a zealous Presbyterian, he relinquished his profession in 1681 rather than take the test, but received from the King, in 1686, a special letter of dispensation, and was within two years thereafter raised to the Bench of the Court of Session, when he took the title of Lord Mersington, from his lands of that name, in the parish of Eccles. This appointment is said to have been made to oblige the Presbyterians. And it is certain that the new judge acted zealously with that party in the troubles immediately preceding the Revolution. Thus we find him among the “discontented gentlemen,”? as a contemporary writer calls them, who accompanied the Provost and Magistrates of Edinburgh, and a large crowd, in an attack on the Palace of Holyrood, for the purpose of taking revenge on one Captain Wallace, who, on the
1 It is so stated in the “ Case of John Swinton of Swinton in relation to his Father's pretended forfeiture," printed in 1690, when Alexander Swinton was still alive.
Balcarras' Memoirs (Bannatyne Club), p. 16.
previous day, had ordered his men to fire on a number of the inhabitants. In one account of this affair Lord Mersington is described as “the fanatical judge,” heading the rabble with “a halbert in his hand, and as drunk as ale and brandy could make him.”1
And this picture of the learned Lord's habits and demeanour has been somewhat recklessly reproduced, in still darker colours, by the pen of a modern novelist. On the other hand, it is to be observed that the description just quoted of the Holyrood riot, and which has been attributed to Lord Balcarras, occurs, not in the genuine edition of that writer's memoirs, but in one of the “ transcripts so mutilated and interpolated as frequently to be unintelligible, and in many instances to reflect the opinions and sentiments of the copyist, rather than those of the original author.”3
And the character ascribed to Lord Mersington can scarcely be reconciled with the fact that, alone among the Scottish judges, he was permitted to resume, after the Revolution, the seat which he had previously occupied on the bench, or with the reference to his death in August 1700 by the Lord Advocate, Sir James Stewart. Writing to Principal Carstares, Sir James says, “On Tuesday last, Lord Mersington dined well with a friend in the Merse, and went well to bed, but was found dead before four in the morning~his lady in bed with him, who knew
Brunton and Haig's Historical Account of the Senators of the College of Justice, p. 432.
? The Scottish Cavalier, by James Grant. 3 Preface, by Lord Lindsay, to Balcarras' Memoirs.
nothing of his dying. A warning stroke.
He was a good honest man, and is much regretted."1
Lord Mersington was twice, some would have us to believe three times married. In his notices of the family of Dalmabey of that Ilk, Douglay” refers to one of the caughters of Sir Alexander Dalmahoy as having married Alexander Swinton, Lord Mersington. That he intends to present her n Mersington's first wife, is proved by the circumstance that loosigns to him as a second, Katharine (ha alioulil bonvo muid Alison) Skene of the family of Hallyarul. It was doubtless the first Lady Mersington who, Huring the Presbyterian sympathies of her husband, was in 1971 banished the town of Edinburgh and the liberties thereof, for having taken part in the presentation to the Privy Council of a petition, “setting forth the sad condition of the country in being deprived of their faithful ministers, and praying that these might again have their liberty, without molestation, to exercise their ministry.' She is said to have been the mother of two sons, of whom all that we know is that they “went to England.”. As already mentioned, there have been, and are, more than one family of the name south of the Tweed. But the only English Swinton known to fame, and who may possibly have been a grandson of Lord Mersington, is the Rev. John Swinton, Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford,
! Carntares' State Papers, p. 625.
3 Crookshanks' History of the Church of Scotland, vol. i. p. 308.
+ Douglas' Baronage, p. 131.
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