Maitland, William (1528?-1573) (DNB00)

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MAITLAND, WILLIAM (1528?–1573), of Lethington, known as the 'Secretary Lethington,' eldest son of Sir Richard Maitland [q. v.], was born about 1528. He was educated at the university of St. Andrews, end afterwards studied on the continent. Both Knox (Works, i. 247) and Buchanan (Hist. Scotl. bk. xvi.) refer to his learning, and Elizabeth described him as the 'flower of the wits of Scotland.' His letters abound in literary allusions, and some of his epigrams have passed into proverbs. In 1554 he was employed in the service of the queen-regent, and a pension of 150l. was paid to him on this account (note to Knox, (Works, ii. 6). In February 1557-8 he went on an embassy to Queen Mary of England (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. p. 106), and in March to France in connection with the negotiations which resulted in the treaty of Cambray (ib. p. 107). Although mentioned by Knox as having in 1556 become persuaded of the unlawfulness of the mass (Works, i. 247), he remained in the service of the queen-regent till October 1559, when he delivered himself up to Kirkcaldy of Grange, explaining that his life was in danger from his outspokenness on religion, and affirming that there was nothing in the heart of the queen-regent but 'craft and deceit' (ib. p. 464). Dread of her political rather than her religious designs seems to have led to his decision, for he states that he had come to see that the French, in the support they had rendered to Scotland, had of late been actuated solely by 'ambition and insatiable cupidity to reign and to make Scotland accessory to the crown of France' (20 Jan. 1559-60, in App. to Robertson, 3rd edit. ii. 313]). It was probably the revelations of Maitland that induced Huntly, Sutherland, and other catholics to declare against the queen-regent. The lords now availed themselves of his invaluable services in negotiating an agreement with Elizabeth, and henceforth he appears as the earnest advocate of an alliance with England. He set out on his embassy in November (Instructions in Sadleir, i. 604-8), and remaining some time in London, made arrangements for the treaty of Berwick, 27 Feb. 1559-60 (Knox, ii. 46-52), by which Elizabeth agreed to send a force to the help of the lords. Besides entering into close, confidential relations with Cecil, he charmed both Elizabeth and Lady Cecil by his wit and learning.

Maitland was chiefly instrumental in persuading the lords to agree to the treaty of Edinburgh of 6 July (Cecil, 25 June, Cal. Hatfield MSS. pt. i. p. 241; Haynes, p. 333), which bound the king and queen of France to abandon their rights to the English throne. In this he was probably influenced by the menace from French designs to Scottish independence, for, even before the treaty, he had mooted to Elizabeth a proposal for deriving Mary of the throne of Scotland (Chalmers, ii. 453; Goodall, i. 110). He acted as speaker of the Scottish parliament in August, at which it was agreed to 'move Queen Elizabeth to take the Earl of Arran to her husband' (Acta Parl. Scot. ii. 606). As he was one of those chosen to make the proposal to Elizabeth, he may at one time have favoured it, but if so his knowledge, both of Elizabeth's disinclination and of Arran's mental incapacity, soon led him entirely to change his opinion, for he privately intimated to Cecil that he had consented to be one of the commissioners merely to 'maintain amitie with the duke and my Lord of Arran' (18 Aug., Knox, vi. 116). The commissioners, who set out on 12 Oct. (Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 62), arrived in Edinburgh on 3 Jan. from their unsuccessful mission (ib. p. 63). But already the death of the French king, on 4 Dec. 1560, had entirely altered the political outlook. So general became the desire for Mary's return that Maitland saw that it could not be resisted, and at once set himself to minimise its dangers. To himself, owing to his former relations with the queen regent, these were necessarily great, and he expressed to Cecil the fear that he would be undone, 'unless the queen may be made favourable to England' (6 Feb. 1560-1, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser., 1560-1, entry 967). Mary's letter to him of 29 June 1561 tended to allay his immediate anxieties, but her promise to judge him only by his 'zeal and faithfulness in her service 'was of doubtful import as to the future, and he was afraid that she would 'bide her time' (10 Aug. in Keith, iii. 211-16). To prevent her proceeding to extremities, he wished to hold out to her the hope of securing Elizabeth's recognition as heir presumptive of England. His letters to Cecil of 9 Aug. (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser., 1561-2, p. 238), 10 Aug. (Keith, iii. 211-16), and 16 Aug. (Appendix to Tytler) have been interpreted as an encouragement to Elizabeth to prevent Mary's return, but they really indicate nothing more than his anxiety to prevent Elizabeth and Cecil from supposing that he had any motive for desiring it. He demonstrates, indeed, the folly of placing obstacles in the way of Mary's return unless Elizabeth had determined at all hazards to stop it, but probably he suspected that while Elizabeth wished the Scots to prevent it she would herself shrink from undertaking this responsibility. His aim therefore was, by a vivid picture of the perilous crisis in Scotland, which pointed to the overthrow of protestantism and a renewal of the league with France, to convince Elizabeth of the necessity of doing all that was possible to secure the goodwill both of Mary and the people of Scotland. In his double purpose he for a time succeeded. Mary's design for the establishment of Catholicism was deferred for several years, and Elizabeth so far followed Maitland's advice as to entirely change her attitude to Mary, and to enter into negotiations, real or feigned, for an alliance between the two kingdoms, based upon the recognition of Mary as heir presumptive.

Shortly after Mary's arrival in Scotland Maitland was, on 1 Sept. 1561, sent on an embassy to England, formally to announce her return to her kingdom, and her earnest desire for permanent friendship with Elizabeth (Mary, 1 Sept. in Illustrations, pp, 90-1, and Labanoff, i. 103; Instructions in Keith, ii. 72-4 ; and Labanoff, i. 104). On his return he was chosen secretary (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 165), and being entrusted with the management of Mary's foreign policy, at least as regards England, he directed his efforts towards a scheme for uniting the 'isles in friendship' by obtaining from Elizabeth the recognition of Mary as heir presumptive. His calculations were apparently based on the conviction that Elizabeth would never bear a child, for his ambition was that the recognition should be more than a dead letter. Moreover he either believed, or feigned to believe, that recognition as heir presumptive would content her, and that this once granted she would not endanger it by attempting a religious revolution, either in England or Scotland (Cecil, 8 June 1562, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser., 1562, entry 170). In Scotland one of his chief difficulties was Knox, whose purpose to establish a puritan theocracy it was necessary to thwart. Through Maitland's influence assent was refused to the 'Book of Discipline,' which he scornfully described as a 'devout imagination,' and he systematically burked all attempts of the puritan ministers to interfere in state matters, 'let thame bark and blaw alse loude as they list' (Knox, ii. 419). No doubt he either misjudged Mary, or, as is more probable, merely made his own use of her professions of toleration; but the political situation was so critical that to stave off the perils attendant on her return was of the highest moment. This was done by enticing Elizabeth and Mary into the succession negotiations, and even although he might believe that nothing would result from them, their protraction was in itself of no small advantage.

On 26 May 1562 Maitland left for England to arrange for an interview between the two sovereigns (Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 72), but the continuance of hostilities in France broke off the arrangement, and he returned on 12 July with the unwelcome tidings that the meeting had been postponed till the following year. The news that when Elizabeth in the following October was at the point of death only a single voice was raised in behalf of Mary was a still severer blow to Mary's hopes. Maitland was on 13 Feb. (ib. p. 76) despatched with instructions to demand recognition of her claims from the parliament (Labanoff, i. 161-9; Keith, ii. 188-92); but despairing of obtaining this, he while in London began negotiations with the Spanish minister for Mary's marriage to Don Carlos (Cal. State Papers, Spanish Ser., 1558-67, pp. 305-16 and passim, cf. Mary). Probably his chief reason for assenting to the marriage was dread of the consequences of thwarting Mary in the prime object of her ambition; but he seems also to have been influenced by a desire to render secure her title to the English succession, and to have hoped that such arrangements would be made as would safeguard the interests of protestantism in Scotland. From London he passed into France, arriving at the French court on 11 April (Middlemore, 14 April, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser., 1563, entry 617). In accordance with his original instructions (Labanoff, i. 164), he on l7 April offered to act as mediator between England and France (Cal State Papers, For. Ser., 1562, entry 636), but there is no reason to suppose that either he or Mary desired to assist Elizabeth. While ostensibly his mission was to guard the interests of Mary in France, its main object was to secure the support of the Cardinal of Lorraine to the marriage with Don Carlos. He arrived in Edinburgh on his return from his mission on 23 June (Randolph, 26 June, ib. entry 938), and spent three days in close conference with the queen. Towards the close of the year the hope of the success of the Spanish suit had almost vanished, but Maitland's services in connection with it were recognised by the gift of the abbacy of Haddington (Randolph, 3 Dec. ib. entry 1481).

Maitland was no more favourable than Mary to Elizabeth's suggestion that Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, should marry the Scottish queen. The likelihood is that he doubted Elizabeth's sincerity in making it, but all that he continued to urge was that before the marriage Mary must be formally recognised as heir-apparent. In this he was so persistent that Elizabeth complained to Melville that he 'did ring always her knell, talking of nothing but her succession' (16 Dec. 1564, ib. 1564-5, entry 866). Elizabeth's inability to come to a definite agreement became manifest at the Berwick conference in November 1564, and Maitland now gave his support to Darnley's suit for Mary's hand. As early as 24 Oct. Randolph reported that Lennox was 'well friended of Lethington, who is now thought will bear much with the Stewarts from the love he bears to Mary Fleming' (24 Oct. ib. entry 767). Henceforth his relations to Mary Fleming must betaken into account in judging his political conduct, not only as regards this but all other matters. It bound him more closely to the fortunes of the Queen of Scots. At the same time he had a sufficient political reason for supporting the Darnley marriage in the fact that it immeasurably strengthened Mary's claims on the English succession. In April Maitland was sent to inform Elizabeth of Mary's desire to marry Darnley (Instructions in Keith, ii. 72-74), and he had also a commission to proceed afterwards to France to 'make the French king and that state allow of her choice' (Throckmorton, 11 May, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser., 1564-5, entry 1159), but on learning that Mary was already treating Darnley as her affianced husband he returned immediately to Scotland. Throckmorton states that he 'never saw him in so great perplexity nor passion, and would have little believed that for any matter he could have been so moved' (ib.) The deception practised upon himself, dread of a rupture with England, and doubt as to Mary's ultimate designs, probably in almost equal proportions, combined to produce his perturbation. Yet when he saw that she was determined to proceed at all hazards he made no attempt further to oppose her, and he kept aloof from the conspiracy of Moray and Argyll.

Although still retaining the office of secretary, Maitland was now practically superseded in the queen's confidence by Rizzio. On 2 June Randolph wrote that the latter 'now worketh all, and that Maitland had' both leave and time enough to make court to his mistress' (ib. entry 1221), and on 31 Oct. he expressed the opinion that Maitland, through his entanglement with Mary Fleming, would, 'wise as he is,' 'show himself a fool' (ib. entry 1638). But if he supposed that Maitland would submit to be superseded by Rizzio, and allow Mary to carry out her scheme of absolutism, he was mistaken. Although he masked his proceedings with admirable skill, it was probably chiefly he who, fathoming her real purposes, suggested the means of thwarting them by the removal of Rizzio. On 9 Feb. he wrote to Cecil that he saw no certain way 'unless they chop at the very root' (ib. 1566-8, entry 82 and he is mentioned by Randolph as one of those privy to the plot (6 March, ib. entry 162). In the 'History of James the Sext' (p. 6) he is represented as suggesting to Darnley that Rizzio, by his necromancy, had won the queen's affection, and Calderwood affirms tnat, failing at first to entice Morton to 'put hands' on Rizzio, he actually suggested to Rizzio to move the queen to 'alienate her countenance 'from Morton (History, ii. 3ll), M. Philippson ('La Participation de Lethington au meurtre de Riccio,' in Revue Historique, xli. 91-4) has printed certain letters of Maitland, written when he was in disgrace, implying approval of the murder, and if insufficient in themselves to demonstrate his direct connection with it, they are of some value as corroborative evidence. The probability, however, is that he contented himself with enticing others to engage in it and took no personal part in the arrangements. On the night of the murder he occupied rooms in the palace, along with several lords of the queen's party, but the same night was permitted by the conspirators to depart, along with the Earl of Atholl (Sir James Melville, Memoirs, p. 149). Denounced by Darnley and hated and feared by Bothwell, who also coveted his lands, his life was for some time in serious danger, but the strong representations of Atholl and Moray, coupled with Mary's own partiality for him, prevented matters proceeding to extremities, and ultimately, in September, he was reconciled to Bothwell and restored to favour (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1566-8, entries 723-6). Mary was desirous of again securing his invaluable services in her negotiations with England, but it cannot be doubted that his recall indicated, both on her part and the part of Bothwell, the contemplation of some scheme for getting rid of Darnley. As Darnley had imperilled Maitland's life and fortunes, it would probably not be hard to convince him of the advisability of such a step. Clearly he had no interest in saving Darnley. On 24 Oct. he wrote to Beaton that he saw between Mary and Darnley 'no agreement, nor appearance that they will agree well thereafter' (Laing, ii. 72). The aim of this letter was probably to suggest the necessity of a divorce, should it be possible without 'prejudice to the young prince.' Mary, in her account of the Craigmillar conference, which was held in December to consider her relations with Darnley, practically affirmed that it was Maitland who first suggested the plot against Darnley's life. He was also mentioned by the subordinate agents of the murder as one of the five who immediately after the conference signed a band for putting forth 'the young fool and proud tyrant' by 'one way or other.' On 6 Jan. 1567 he married Mary Fleming, and shortly after his marriage he accompanied Bothwell to Whittinghame, when the latter proposed to Morton to undertake the murder. As Maitland had secured Morton's recall on a promise that means should be found to rid the queen of Darnley, it is impossible to suppose him ignorant of Bothwell's proposals to Morton, even if no weight is to be attached to the statement of Archibald Douglas (fl. 1568) [q. v.] that he was in communication with the queen in reference to the proposal (Morton's confession in Richard Bannatyne's Memorials, 317-32; Archibald Douglas to the Queen of Scots in Robertson's Hist. 6th ed. ii. 432]). Darnley's murder followed on 10 Feb.

Maitland accompanied the queen to Seton after the murder, and being in constant attendance on her was probably chiefly responsible for the tenor of her letters to Lennox and others. He prevented the deliverance of Elizabeth's letter to her on the morning of Bothwell's trial, on the plea that the queen was asleep, but the falsehood of the plea was almost immediately shown by the appearance of her and Maitland's wife at a window of the palace (Drury to Cecil, 15 April, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1566-8, entry 1100; Drury, undated, ib. entry 1199). He did not sign the bond for the marriage to Bothwell, and was entirely averse to it, but he early saw that interference with Bothwell's purpose would be worse than useless. When Melville showed the queen a letter of Thomas Bishop in reference to Bothwell's intentions, Maitland privately informed him that he had done 'more honestly than wisely' (Sir James Melville, Memoirs, p. 176). He was in the queen's train when she was intercepted by Bothwell, and was carried with her to Dunbar. According to his own account he would have been slain that night but for the queen's interference, and henceforth determined to escape to the lords at Stirling at the first opportunity (Drury, 6 May, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser., entry 1175). He, however, accompanied the queen from Dunbar to Edinburgh, was present at the marriage to Bothwell (Diurnal, p. 111), and remained at court on good terms with her, 'though hated by the duke' (Drury, May, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. entry 1244), until dread of his life from the latter's violence compelled him at last, on 6 June, to make his escape (Drury, 7 June, ib. entry 1275; Sir James Melville, p. 178; Diurnal, p. 112). He went first to Callendar (ib.), and thence to the Earl of Atholl (Melville, p. 178), with whom on the 14th he returned to Edinburgh and joined the lords (Diurnal, p. 113). Possibly he did so with the greatest reluctance, and, apart from considerations of personal safety, his main purpose seems to have been to save the queen from the ruinous consequences of her so-called marriage.

Mary, when lodged in the provost's house after Carberry, called Maitland to her window and remonstrated against the wrong done her in separating her from her husband. She proposed that they should be permitted to leave Scotland together in a ship to go where 'fortune might conduct them,' and Maitland seems to have thought the proposal feasible, provided they avoided France (Du Croc, 17 June, Trulet, ii. 811). At the same time he informed her that if she would abandon Bothwell all might yet be well. According to Morton's 'Declaration' Maitland was dining with Morton in Edinburgh on 19 June when word was brought to them that Bothwell's servants had gone to the castle to fetch his effects, and he was present at the opening of the silver casket on the 21st (Henderson, Casket Letters, pp. 113-15). It was also on the 21st that he informed Cecil that, having only 'staid in company with the Earl Bothwell at court' from 'reverence and affection' to the queen his mistress, fear of his life and the hazard of his reputation had now induced him to join 'the best part of the nobility' in freeing her from Bothwell's power. So far his statement is perfectly credible; but a subsequent reference to the 'honour of the country, almost lost by that shameful murder' (Letter to Cecil, 1 July, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1566-8, entry 1381), is a sufficiently striking example of diplomatic hypocrisy. After the flight of Bothwell, Maitland seems to have secretly devoted himself to the queen's interests. In token of his devotion he is said to have sent her a small oval ornament of gold, enamelled with Æsop's fable of the mouse delivering the lion caught in the net (Calderwood, ii. 871; Nau, p. 59). At the opening of the parliament in December he delivered a speech well fitted to allay animosities and to reconcile all parties to the rule of the regent. According to Sir James Melville, it was his conviction that the queen's interests would be best served by joining 'all the country together in quietness (Memoirs, p. 190). The statement of Calderwood that he was one of 'the chief plotters and devisers' of Mary's deliverance from Lochleven (ii. 404) is unsupported by evidence, and is essentially improbable. On the morning of Langside, Mary sent a private message to him asking his mediation in arranging terms with the regent {Memoirs, p. 200), but her purpose was frustrated by the precipitate action of the Hamiltons in forcing a battle.

Maitland had persistently endeavoured, so far as prudence would permit, to shield Mary, and, although one of the commissioners of the York conference, wished to avoid proceeding to extremities against her. He had a personal interest in preventing any thorough inquiry into the murder of Darnley, and the fact that Mary did not scruple to name him as one of its principal contrivers doubtless quickened his anxiety to effect a compromise. By means of Sir Robert Melville he therefore entered into private communication with Mary, to whom he sent a copy of the letters which the Scottish commissioners intended to produce 'in proof of the murder.' He added an assurance of his entire devotion to her service, and requested information as to the best course to pursue on her behalf (examination of the Bishop of Ross in Murdin, p. 52). Mary accepted his proffered assistance, asking him to use his influence both with Moray and Norfolk—the principal English commissioner—to stay the accusations; and advising him to consult further with her representative, John Leslie [q. v.], bishop of Ross. With Mary's consent Maitland therefore revived a scheme for her marriage to Norfolk. All would probably have been well but for Elizabeth. Norfolk was willing, Mary did not object, Moray might have been won over; but the knowledge that such a scheme was afoot was sufficient to determine Elizabeth to compel the Scottish commissioners to utter all they could to the 'queen's dishonour.' When Moray, partly by threats, partly by stratagem, was induced finally to give in his accusation, Maitland 'rounded' in his ear 'that he had shamed himself and put his life in peril,' (Sir James Melville, Memoirs, p. 211). After the close of the conferences Maitland endeavoured again to revive the Norfolk marriage scheme, and with this view an attempt was made in July 1569 to gain the consent of the Perth convention to the queen's divorce from Bothwell. On its failure Maitland severed himself from the party of the regent, and retired to Atholl. Being, however, enticed to attend a meeting of the council at Stirling on 3 Sept., he had hardly taken his seat before Captain Thomas Crawford [q. v.] entered the chamber and, falling down on his knees, desired that justice should be done on Maitland and Sir James Balfour for their share in Darnley's murder (Diurnal, p. 147). Although Maitland offered to find caution in any sum the regent might fix, he was confined in the castle of Stirling. Thence he was sent to Edinburgh for trial, but while confined there in a private house, he was, on a pretended warrant from the rejgent, removed by Kirkcaldy to the castle. Kirkcaldy subsequently promised to bring him into court on the day fixed for his trial, 21 Nov.; but on account of the 'great convention of the people' in his support the trial was not proceeded with (ib. pp. 151-2; Calderwood, ii. 506). At a meeting of the nobles held on the evening of the regent's funeral, 14 Feb. 1570, Maitland 'was purged of privitie to the murder of the king or regent,' and set at liberty {Diurnal, p. 158; Calderwood, ii. 526).

After the death of the regent Maitland exerted himself to reconcile the two factions, but his intentions were frustrated by the advance of the English army into Scotland. After the election of Lennox to the regency, 17 July, he retired into Atholl, and henceforth became the acknowledged head of the queen's party. He undertook his overwhelming responsibilities with health hopelessly broken. Already, on 1 March 1570, Randolph wrote that he had now 'only his heart whole and stomach good,' his legs being 'clean gone, his body weak' (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1569-71, entry 723). On 1 April 1571 he joined Kirkcaldy in Edinburgh Castle, being conveyed to it from Leith 'by six workmen with sting and ling, and Mr. Robert Maitland holding up his head' (Bannatyne, Memorials, p. 110). On 14 May he was forfeited by the regent's parliament on the ground of his 'foreknowledge and consent of the murder of the late king. It soon became evident that he was engaged in an unequal struggle; the hope of securing even the neutrality of England: disappeared; France remained lukewarm; and the supporters of Mary outside the castle walls gradually fell away and made terms with the enemy. But Maitland continued to hope against hope; and faith in his ability to weather the storm in some way or other nerved the garrison to maintain to the last their heroic defence. Knox on his deathbed sent a message warning him and Kirkcaldy of the fate that would befall them if they would not 'leave that evil cause and give over the castle;' but Knox's assumption of special familiarity with the purposes of the Most High only moved Maitland's mirth, and he bade the messenger 'to go tell Mr. Knox he is but a drytting prophet.' Learning of Morton's illness in November 1572, and deeming it mortal like his own, he sent his cousin, the Laird of Carmichael, to remind him of their old friendship and of the many benefits he had secured for him 'out of kindness only and not for his gear' (ib. p. 339). This message probably led Morton to begin negotiations with Maitland and Kirkcaldy through Sir James Melville, but the negotiations were broken off on their refusal to agree to the sacrifice of the Hamiltons and Gordons (Sir James Melville, Memoirs, p. 260). The refusal sealed their fate; Morton for his own safety deemed it necessary to sacrifice one or other section of the Marian party.

When the guns of the castle began to fire on the besiegers, Maitland had to be carried down to the vaults below St. David's Chapel, his frame being so feeble that 'he could not abide the shot.' The assault with English cannon commenced on 21 May 1573, and after the storming of the spur on the 26th the defenders endeavoured to make terms for a surrender, but while willing to grant their lives to the garrison, Morton declared that the leaders, including Maitland and Kirkcaldy, must surrender unconditionally. These terms they refused, but on the 29th they gave themselves up to Drury, the English commander, hoping that the intervention of Elizabeth might avail to save their lives. Had they stood out longer, the garrison, it is said, would have 'hanged Lethington over the castle walls' (Remembrances, Cal. S. P. For. Ser. 1572-4, entry 1047). The expedient of delivering themselves to the English availed them nothing, Maitland only escaping the ignominy of execution by dying in prison at Leith on 9 June 1573. The current belief, according to Sir James Melville, was that 'he took a drink and died, as the old Romans were wont to do' (Memoirs, p. 266), and Killigrew states that 'he died not without suspicion of poison;' but there is no evidence to support these suspicions, for he had been dying by inches long before the surrender of the castle. On 18 June Drury wrote that he had pressed the regent in vain that Maitland's body might be buried (Cal. S. P. For. Ser. 1572-4, entry 1044), and Calderwood states that so long did it remain without burial that the vermin from it came 'creeping out under the door of the house' (History, iii. 285). When or where he was buried is not mentioned.

Buchanan's caustic portrait of Maitland in 'The Chamsaleon,' though a mere caricature, was superficially so clever and true that it was generally accepted, by catholics and protestants alike, as a complete and accurate likeness. The reason was that Maitland cared comparatively little either for protestantism or Catholicism, and was actuated in his political conduct by considerations which neither party could appreciate. Thus each regarded him as a traitor. Probably he himself considered the betrayal of protestantism or Catholicism of comparatively small moment, provided that he saved the interests of his country; and as a matter of fact his patriotism was only the more staunch and pure that it was unhampered by ecclesiastical restraints. The wisdom of his statesmanship is another matter, and at least it may be said that he excelled more as diplomatist than statesman. His aims were apt to be chimerical, and his marvellous adroitness in diplomacy tempted him to believe in the accomplishment of impossibilities.

Notwithstanding his unerring insight into the motives of those with whom he came in contact—indicated especially in the skilful method with which in his correspondence he played on their special weaknesses—he failed properly to understand the drift of the current tendencies of his time. His failure as a practical politician has been attributed to lack of principle; but a failure from this cause is the exception, not the rule, and his was probably in one sense due to excess of principle, to his devotion to unattainable ideals. Few politicians have been more consistent or persistent in their main aims; and as to means he was not more unscrupulous than the majority of the politicians of his time. While by no means unmindful of his own personal interests, he, almost alone among contemporary Scottish politicians, was unflinchingly patriotic. Nor can it be affirmed that he was in any proper sense a traitor to his queen, if regard be had to essentials. On the contrary, he constantly strove to save her from herself, and at last sacrificed himself in a quixotic attempt to retrieve her hopeless fortunes.

Maitland was twice married: first to Janet Menteith, without issue; and secondly to Mary, daughter of Malcolm, third lord Fleming, by whom he had a son James and a daughter Margaret, married to Robert, first earl of Roxburgh. The son having become a Roman catholic retired to the continent, where he died without issue some time after 1620. He was the author of a 'Narrative of the Principal Acts of the Regency during the Minority, and other Papers relating to the History of Mary Queen of Scots,' edited by W. S. F., and privately printed at Ipswich in 1842 (copy in the library of the British Museum); and 'An Apologie for William Maitland of Ledington against the Lies and Calumnies of Jhone Leslie, Bishop of Ross, George Buchanan, and William Camden' (Addit MS, British Museum, 32092, f. 230). The estate of Lethington, which was restored to the family under the great seal, was sold 19 Feb. 1583-4 to Sir John Maitland, first lord of Thirlestane [q. v.]

[A life of Maitland is included in Chalmers's Mary Queen of Scots. A general vindication of his political conduct is attempted in Skelton's Maitland of Lethington, 2 vols. 1887-8. A large number of his letters are in the British Museum, the State Paper Office, the Library of Hatfield, and elsewhere. In addition to the authorities for his life mentioned in the text, those referred to for this period under Mary should be consulted.]

T. F. H.