Bellenden, John (d.1577) (DNB00)

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BELLENDEN, Sir JOHN, of Auchnoul, or Auchinoul (d. 1577), Scottish lawyer, was the elder son of Thomas Bellenden of Auchinoul, who, in January 1541, was one of the two Scottish commissioners for the negotiation of an extradition treaty for the reciprocal surrender of fugitives between England and Scotland; had the office of justice clerk in 1540; and held it until his death in 1546. Sir John succeeded his father in his office 25 June 1547 ; appears as an ordinary lord for the first time, 4 July following (Brunton and Haig's Historical Account), and occurs for the first time in the ‘Books of Sederunt,’ 13 Nov. 1554, with the title of Auchinoul (Lord Hailes, Catalogue of the Lords of Session). He was employed by Mary of Lorraine, queen regent, as a mediator between her and the lords of the congregation; but he soon joined the reformers. Under the queen regent he was likewise employed as one of the two Scottish commissioners appointed to meet two others on the part of England with a view ‘to cement the two nations in a firm and lasting bond of peace’(Keith's History, p. 69). Soon after the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots at Edinburgh, 19 Aug. 1561, he was sworn a member of the privy council, which was constituted on 6 Sept. following; and in December of the same year was appointed one of the commissioners for the adjustment or ‘modification’ of the stipends of the reformed clergy. Two years afterwards he was one of the two Scottish commissioners who concluded with four representatives of England a ‘border treaty,’ or ‘convention of peace for the borders of both nations,’ which was executed at Carlisle on 11 Sept. and at Dumfries on 23 Sept. 1563. He was implicated in the assassination of Rizzio, and fled from Edinburgh on 18 March 1566 on the arrival of Mary and Darnley with an army, but was shortly afterwards restored to favour. He was deputed in 1567 to carry the queen's command for the proclamation of the banns of marriage between her and Bothwell to Mr. John Craig, at that time the colleague of John Knox in the parish church of Edinburgh, and had ‘long reasoning’ with the kirk, with the result that he substantially removed their objection to the royal mandate (Keith, History, pp. 586 and 587). He joined, however, the confederation of nobles against Mary and Bothwell, and was continued in his office by them when they imprisoned the queen and took the government into their own hands. He was also a member of the privy council of the regent Murray, by whom he was confirmed in the possession of the lands of Woodhouselee, which had been obtained from Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh on condition of his procuring for Hamilton pardon for some crime of his commission—a transaction which indirectly led to the assassination of Murray. In his capacity of ‘clerk of justiciarie’ he was one of the ‘nobilitie, spiritualitie, and commissionaris of Burrowis,’ who ‘conveint for coronation’ of James VI at Stirling, 29 July 1567, after the ceremonious performance of which the justice-clerk, in the name of the estates of the kingdom, ‘and also Johne Knox, minister, and Robert Campbell of Kinzeancleuch, askit actis, instrumentis, and documentis’ (Keith, pp. 435, 439). In February 1572-3 Bellenden was employed in framing the pacification of Perth, by which all the queen's party, with one or two exceptions, submitted themselves ‘to the king's obedience,’ and by one of the conditions of which Lord Boyd, the commendator of Newbattle, and the justice-clerk, were to be sole judges in any actions for the restitution of goods to persons on the south side of the Forth who had been deprived of the same ‘be vertew of thir trublis’ (Historie of King James the Sext, pp. 129,132). In March 1573-4 Bellenden was one of the four commissioners appointed by the regent Morton to debate with a committee of divines appointed by the kirk the question ‘whether the supreme magistrate should not be head of the church as well as of the commonwealth.’ They conferred for the space of twelve or thirteen days, when the regent, finding no appearance of obtaining his object, ‘dissolved the meeting till a new appointment’ (Hume, Houses of Douglas and Angus, p. 334). Bellenden died before 20 April 1577, when Thomas Bellenden of Newtyle was appointed a lord of session in his place, described as vacated by his death (Hailes, Catalogue). He was twice married; the first time to Barbara, daughter of Sir Hugh Kennedy of Girvanmains, by whom he had two sons, Lewis [q. v.] and Adam [q. v.], and the second time to Janet Seton, said to be of the family of Touch, by whom he left three daughters.

[Lord Hailes's Catalogue of the Lords of Session, Edinburgh, 1794; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice, 1832; Keith's History of Church and State in Scotland, 1734; Historie of the Reformation of the Church of Scotland, 1644; Hume's History of the Houses of Douglas and Angus, 1644; Historie and Life of King James the Sext, 1825; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, 1813.]

A. H. G.