Mure, William (1594-1657) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

MURE, Sir WILLIAM (1594–1657), poet, was the third successive owner of Rowallan, Ayrshire, with the same name and title. Sir William , his grandfather, a man 'of a meik and gentle spirit,' who 'delyted much in the study of phisick,' died in 1616; and Sir William, his father, who was 'ane strong man of bodie, and delyted much in hounting and balking,' died in 1639 (Hist. and Descent of the House of Rowallane, pp. 92-4). Mure's mother was Elizabeth Montgomerie, sister of Alexander Montgomerie (fl. 1590) [q. v.], author of the 'Cherrie and the Slae.' To this relationship Muir makes reference in a set of verses addressed to Charles, prince of Wales, afterwards Charles I. His muse, he says, can make but little boast,

Save from Montgomery she her birth doth claim

(Lyle, Ancient Ballads and Songs, 1827). Mure was liberally educated, being probably an alumnus of Glasgow University, like his brother Hugh, who was trained there for the church. With a correct and educated taste Mure 'delyted much in building and planting,' and he 'reformed the whole house [at Rowallan] exceidingly.' Previous to his father's death he gave much time to literature, but subsequently he was drawn into active life, when he showed an excellent public spirit. In 1643 he was a member of parliament at Edinburgh, and he was on the 'Committee of Warre' for the sheriffdom of Ayr in 16-14. In the same year he engaged in England in several of the encounters between the royalist and the parliamentary forces. On 2 July he was wounded at Marston Moor, and in August he was at Newcastle, where for a time he commanded his regiment. Of his last ten years there is no record, but the book of his 'House' (in a paragraph supplementing his own story) shows that he was 'pious and learned, and had an excellent vaine in poyesie,' and that he 'lived Religiouslie and died Christianlie' in 1657. Before 1615 he married Anna Dundas, daughter of Dundas of Newliaton, by whom he had eleven children; and he married, secondly, Jane Hamilton, lady Duntreath, who bore two sons and two daughters. He was succeeded by his son, Sir William, a well-known covenanter, upon the death of whose son in 1700, without a male heir, the title became extinct.

Mure left numerous manuscript verses, including a Latin tribute to his grandfather, an English ' Dido and Æneas ' from the 'Æneid,' and two religious poems, 'The Joy of Tears ' and 'The Challenge and Reply.' In the 'Muses' Welcome,' 1617, there is a poetical address by Mure to King James when at Hamilton. In 1628 he translated ' invected in English Sapphics ' Boyd of Trochrig's Latin ' Hecatombe Christiana,' to which he appended a poem on 'Doomsday.' In 1629 appeared his 'True Crucifixe for True Catholikes,' 12mo, Edinburgh. This poem, Mure's most ambitious effort, is ingenious and interesting, but unquestionably heavy. About 1639 he cleverly paraphrased the Psalms, of which Principal Baillie of Edinburgh highly approved (letter from Westminster Assembly, 1 Jan. 1644, quoted by Lyle). The general assembly of the church of Scotland commended Mure's Psalms to the attention of that committee which chose the version of Eons for congregational use. In his latter days Mure wrote the quaint and valuable 'Historie and Descent of the House of Rowallane,' edited by the Rev. W. Mure, 1825. In T. Lyle's 'Ancient Ballads and Songs, chiefly from Tradition, MSS., and Scarce Works,' a number of Mure's miscellaneous poems occur, including examples in heroic couplet, two addresses to his wife, and several sonnets excellent in sentiment and creditable in structure.

[Historie and Descent of the House of Rowallane; Memoir in Lyle's Ancient Ballads and Songs; Anderson's Scottish Nation.]

T. B.