Dalyell, Robert (d.1654) (DNB00)

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DALYELL or DALZELL, ROBERT, second Earl of Carnwath (d. 1654), was the eldest son of Sir Robert Dalyell, created earl of Camwath in 1639, and Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Crichton of Clunie. He succeeded his father in the earldom about the close of 1639. In the dispute with the covenanters he from the beginning sided with the king, and, it is charitably to be hoped, chiefly on this account is styled by Robert Baillie 'a monstre of profanity' (Letters and Journals, ii. 78). Being absent from Scotland when the parliament met in July 1641, he was one of the noblemen summoned to present himself at the market-cross of Edinburgh or the pier of Leith within sixty days on pain of forfeiture (Spalding, Memorials, ii. 57). He had not subscribed the covenant when Charles on 17 Aug. visited the parliament, and therefore, with other noblemen, had to remain in 'the next room' (Balfour, Annals, iii. 44). On 17 Sept. he was, however, nominated a member of the privy council (Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, v. 675); but as on 3 Oct. it was reported to the house that Carnwath the previous night had said to William Dick 'that now we had three kings, and by God two of them behoved to want the head' (Balfour, Annals, iii. 101), thus causing 'grate execrations' on the part of Hamilton and Argyll, it was not surprising that his name should have been included among those of the privy councillors which the Estates on 13 Nov. deleted out of the roll given in by the king (ib. 109). On 22 June he attended the convention of the Estates, and the following day information was laid against him for treasonable correspondence with the queen (Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vi. 6). To this he immediately made a reply, but after the adjournment to dinner failed to present himself when his case was about to be further considered, and incurred a fine of 10,000/. Scots for 'contempt and contumacie' (Spalding, Memorials, ii. 255), the money being obtained from Sir William Dick, who was in debt to the earl for a large sum. Carnwath, deeming it unadvisable to place himself in the power of his opponents, went to the king, and on 18 Aug. was put to the horn. It is to an indiscretion on the part of Carnwath that Clarendon chiefly attributes the defeat of the royalists at Naseby on 14 June 1644. According to Clarendon, the king with his reserve of horse was about to charge the horse of the enemy, who had broken his left wing, 'when the Earl of Carnwath, who rode next to him, on a sudden laid his hand on the bridle of the king's horse, and, swearing two or three full-mouthed Scottish oaths (for of that nation he was), said, "Will you go upon your death in an instant?" and before his majesty understood what he would have turned his horse round; upon which a word ran through the troops "that they should march to the right hand," which led them both from charging the enemy and assisting their own men. Upon this they all turned their horses, and rode upon the spur, as if they were every man to shift for himself (History of the Rebellion, Oxford edit, ii. 863-4). The story, however, is uncorroborated. Carnwath, with other Scottish gentlemen, served under Lord Digby, who in 1645 was appointed lieutenant-general of the forces north of the Trent. After Digby's defeat in October at Sherborne in Yorkshire, Carnwath retreated with him to Dumfries, and embarked with him to the Isle of Man, whence they passed over to Ireland, the troops 'being left by them to shift for themselves' (ib. 943). The process of forfeiture against the Earl of Carnwath was finally completed on 25 Feb. 1645, when he was declared guilty of treason, and ordained to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, and whoever should kill him it was declared should do good service to his country (Balfour, Annals, iii. 282). The forfeiture did not, however, extend to his issue, and his eldest son Gavin, who had not joined the royalists, and had obtained from his father a grant of the fee of the barony of Carnwath, received in April 1646 a charter under the great seal of the earldom of Carnwath, after he had paid a hundred thousand merks Scots on account of his father's life-rent. The fact that Gavin assumed the title has led Douglas, in the ‘Scotch Peerage,’ erroneously to state that the second earl had died before this, and has introduced also some uncertainty in the references to the Earl of Carnwath in contemporary writers. Thus, it was the son and not the father who, as recorded by Balfour, subscribed the covenant and oath of parliament on 31 July 1646 (ib. iii. 299), and is subsequently mentioned as taking part in the proceedings of the Estates. On 15 May 1650 an act was passed precluding the father—described merely as Sir Robert Dalyell—with other persons, from entering ‘within the kingdom from beyond seas with his majesty until they give satisfaction to the church and state’ (ib. iii. 14), but Charles II after his recognition by the Scots in 1651 took immediate measures to have him restored to his estates and honours (Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vi. 604, 606, 614, 623). It was the father and not the son, as is frequently stated, who was the Earl of Carnwath taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester. On 16 Sept. 1651 he was ordered to be committed to the Tower (State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1651, p. 432). On 17 Dec. 1651 he was allowed the liberty of the Tower, to walk for the preservation of his health (ib. 1651–2, p. 67), and on 25 June 1652 liberty was given him to go to Epsom for six weeks to drink the waters (ib. 301). He died in June 1654. In 1661 a commission was appointed to inquire ‘into the losses and sufferings sustained by the deceast Robert earl of Carnwath, and Gavin, now earl of Carnwath, his sonne, during the late troubles’ (Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vii. 237). By his wife Christian, daughter of Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig, he had two sons, Gavin, third earl, and the Hon. William Dalyell.

[Balfour's Annals; Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vols. v., vi., vii.; Spalding's Memorials of the Troubles; Nicolls's Diary; Gordon's Scots Affairs; State Papers, Dom. Ser., 1651–4; Robert Baillie's Letters and Journals; Guthrie's Memoirs; Douglas's Scotch Peerage (Wood), i. 311–12; Irving's Upper Ward of Lanarkshire, ii. 513–17.]

T. F. H.