Balfour, Robert (d.1757) (DNB00)

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BALFOUR, ROBERT (d. 1757), fifth Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Jacobite, when a youth fell in love with a 'pretty face,' far inferior in rank, much to the annoyance of the family. He was sent to travel abroad in the hope that he would forget his attachment. Before he set out he declared to his lady-love that if in his absence she married he should kill her husband. Notwithstanding the threat, she did marry a Henry Stenhouse, schoolmaster at Inverkeithing, acquainting him beforehand of the hazard. On Balfour's return his first inquiry was after the girl. On being informed of her marriage, he proceeded on horseback (with two attendants) directly to the school at Inverkeithing, called Stenhouse out, deliberately shot him (wounding him in the shoulder), and quietly returned to Burleigh. This was on 9 April 1707. The poor schoolmaster lingered twelve days, and then died. Balfour was tried for the murder in the high court of justiciary on 4 Aug. 1709. The defence was ingenious, but inadequate. He was brought in guilty, and sentenced to be beheaded on 6 Jan. 1709-10. But a few days prior to this he escaped from the prison ('Heart of Midlothian') by exchanging clothes with his sister, who resembled him. He skulked for some time in the neighbourhood of Burleigh, and a great ash-tree, hollow in the trunk, was long shown as his place of concealment. On the death of his father, in 1713, the title devolved on him. His next appearance was at the meeting of Jacobites at Lochmaben, 29 May 1714, when 'the Pretender's' health was drunk at the cross, on their knees, Lord Burleigh denouncing damnation against all who would not drink it. He engaged in the rebellion of 1715. For this he was attainted by act of parliament, and his estates forfeited to the crown. He died, without issue, in 1757.

[Anderson's Scottish Nation ; Maclaurin's Criminal Trials; Rae's History of the Rebellion.]

A. B. G.