Barton, Andrew (DNB00)

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BARTON, ANDREW (d. 1511), a Scottish naval commander, whose defeat by Sir Thomas and Sir Edward Howard is celebrated in the old ballad of 'Sir Andrew Barton,' was the son of John Barton, who is mentioned in the account of the chamberlain of Fife, 1474-75, as master of the Yellow Carvel, subsequently rendered famous under Sir Andrew Wood. Like the other Scottish naval commanders of the time, John Barton was a merchant seaman, and his three sons, Andrew, Robert (afterwards lord high treasurer of Scotland), and John, followed the same occupation. Andrew Barton's name occurs in the 'Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer' (i. 343) as victualling Perkin Warbeck's ship in 1497; and in the same year, as well as frequently afterwards, he is mentioned in the 'Ledger of Andrew Halyburton' (printed in 1867) as supplying merchandise to various persons. In 1476 letters of marque had been granted by James III to the Bartons against the Portuguese for plundering the ship of John Barton, the father. These letters had been repeatedly suspended in the hope of redress; but in November 1506 they were renewed by James IV to the sons, granting them liberty to seize Portuguese goods till they were repaid 12,000 ducats of Portugal. Andrew Barton was probably the most active of the three brothers in capturing richly laden ships of Portugal returning from India and Africa; and his daring and skill appear to have won for him the special favour of the Scottish king, whose interest was almost as much centred in naval achievements as in the knightly tourneys which had made him famous throughout Europe. In 1506 James IV built 'a great and costly ship,' in command of which Andrew Barton completely cleared the Scottish coasts of Flemish pirates, sending the king, with a barbarity characteristic of the times, three barrels of their heads, in token of the thoroughness with which he had carried out his commission (Leslie, History of Scotland). In 1506 Andrew Barton was sent to assist Denmark against Lubeck (Gairdner, Letters illustrative of the Reigns of Richard III and Heury II (1863), ii. 264). In the following year there is record of a complaint by Margaret, duchess of Savoy, governess of the Netherlands, against the capture of some vessels by Andrew and John Barton; but the king assures her that her information must be erroneous (Brewer, State Papers, Henry VIII, vol. i. No. 117). There is indeed no distinct act of unlicensed piracy recorded against the Bartons; but the revival of letters of marque against the Portuguese, after an interval of thirty years, tended to associate piracy with their names. It was also stated that Andrew Barton was in the habit of searching English vessels engaged in the Portuguese trade, and, in any case, the capture of Portuguese merchantmen inflicted serious damage on the trade of London. Henry VIII does not appear to have made any complaints against him to the King of Scotland; but at the earnest request of Sir Thomas and Sir Edward Howard he permitted them to fit out two ships with the view of effecting his capture. They fell in with Barton cruising in the Downs in his own ship, the Lion, attended by a pinnace. A brilliant and desperate conflict ensued; but after Barton had been shot by an archer through the heart the resistance of the Scots was at an end. Barton's ship was brought in triumph to the Thames, and became the second man-of-war in the English navy, the Great Harry, the earliest, having been built in 1504. The defeat and death of Barton took place 2 Aug. 1511. King James demanded redress from King Henry, who replied that the 'fate of pirates was never an object of dispute among princes,' implying probably that the capture of Portuguese ships was a clear act of piracy. Henry, indeed, freed the sailors of Barton, supplying them with money sufficient to take them home; but this act of clemency failed to satisfy the Scottish king, and the dispute was finally fought out on Flodden Field.

[In addition to the State Papers the historical authorities regarding Andrew Barton are Hall's Chronicle on the English side, and the histories of Leslie and Buchanan on the Scottish side. Of the ballad of Sir Andrew Barton, apparently an expansion of the narrative in Hall's Chronicle, there are three different forms-the earliest being that of Bishop Percy's folio manuscript (about 1650); the second the old broadside in black letter, printed for W. O., and sold by the booksellers of Pye Corner; and the third the version printed by Percy in his Reliques. and which is simply the folio manuscript copy, altered, but not improved by a comparison with the old broadside copy. The knighthood attributed to Andrew Burton in the ballad is apparently fictitious, for in the record of a gift of land to him in Fife in 1510 (Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, . par. 3511) no title is mentioned.]

T. F. H.