Winram, George (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

WINRAM, GEORGE, Lord Libbertoun (d. 1650), Scottish judge, son of James Winram of Liberton in Midlothian, was admitted advocate on 20 Dec. 1620. He was a friend of James Hamilton, third marquis (afterwards first Duke) of Hamilton [q. v.], and after the abolition of episcopacy by the general assembly in 1638 he undertook the dangerous task of presenting the assembly's petition to the king in London. On receiving the petition Charles replied bitterly, ‘When they have broken my head, they will put on my cowl.’ During his stay in England Winram was active in the cause of the covenant. His public letters, which were liable to be opened, ‘were full of great feares and English braggs;’ but in his secret communications he made the Scots acquainted with the king's real weakness (Baillie, Letters and Journals, i. 115, 187). He was one of the commissioners for Midlothian in the parliaments of 1643 and 1649, and was a member of numerous parliamentary committees. On 26 Aug. 1643 he was nominated colonel of one of the regiments to be raised in Midlothian for the English war (Acts of Scottish Parl. vi. i. 52), and on the same day he was appointed a member of the committee to which it was entrusted to put the country in a posture of defence (ib. vi. i. 57). He was a member of the various committees appointed to carry on the war and to administer the functions of the executive. He was also selected by the general assembly as one of their representatives at the Westminster assembly of divines, and on 23 Feb. 1647 he received an allowance from parliament in that capacity, which on 25 March was ordered to be discontinued when the Earl of Lauderdale reached London (ib. vi. i. 704, 813). In February 1649, when the execution of Charles I rendered a breach with England probable, Winram was again nominated colonel of one of the regiments to be raised in Midlothian (ib. vi. ii. 186, 187, 317, 411). In the same year eight of the ordinary lords of session were removed, and Winram was one of those appointed in their stead on 8 March (ib. vi. ii. 283; Balfour, Annals, iii. 390).

In the meantime profound dissatisfaction was felt in Scotland at the course of events in England. Parliament, under the influence of Hamilton, resolved to attempt to open negotiations with Charles II, whom already on 5 Feb. they had conditionally proclaimed at Edinburgh. On 6 March Winram was chosen one of the commissioners to treat with Charles. The conditions proffered, however, were so severe that Charles, who had hopes in Ireland, declined to accede to them, and the deputation returned in June without success (Baillie, iii. 86–8, 510–21; Acts of Scottish Parl. vi. ii. 232; Balfour, Annals, iii. 408). In the course of the summer, however, Charles made new overtures to Argyll, and on 7 Aug. Winram was appointed to reopen negotiations. When, however, his instructions came to be drawn, they proved so unbending in the matter of the covenant that he refused to undertake the mission (Acts of Scottish Parl. vi. ii. 538, 739, 740; Balfour, iii. 417; Baillie, iii. 90). He was finally induced to set out in October when the news of Cromwell's success in Ireland raised hopes that Charles would prove less obdurate. Winram's reluctance to undertake the mission is not surprising, for Sir John Berkeley in a letter to Hyde remarks: ‘I believe Libbertoun will think he hath made a good voyage if he escape with a broken pate. The gallants in Jersey talkt of throwing him over the wall.’ He sailed from Leith on 11 Oct., passed through Holland, where he held conferences with the English presbyterian exiles, and, accompanied by their agent, Silius Titus [q. v.], found Charles in Jersey. Charles was desirous of uniting the covenanters, engagers, and royalists in Scotland in one common movement, and, feeling that his presence would greatly assist such a project, he showed himself less obdurate than formerly on the matter of conditions. Winram returned to Edinburgh on 2 Feb. 1649–50, with the intelligence that Charles would receive commissioners for further treaty at Breda (Balfour, iv. 2, 5). In conjunction with John Kennedy, sixth earl of Cassilis [q. v.], and the other delegates, he took part in the conferences at Breda, and, although hindered by the presence of such a zealot as John Livingstone [q. v.], among the commissioners, signed the final agree- ment off Heligoland on 21 June 1650. On returning to Scotland he joined the army and fought in the battle of Dunbar on 3 Sept., where he was so severely wounded that he died eight days later (Balfour, iv. 98).

[Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice, 1832, pp. 341–2; Balfour's Annales of Scotland, 1825, vols. iii. and iv.; Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. vi. passim; Letters and Papers illustrating the Relations between Charles II and Scotland in 1650, ed. Gardiner (Scottish Hist. Soc.); Baillie's Letters and Papers (Bannatyne Club), index; Clarendon State Papers, 1773, vol. ii. App.; Masson's Life of Milton, iv. 180; Carlyle's Works, xv. 198, 230; Foster's Scottish Members of Parliament; Records of the General Assemblies of 1646 and 1647 (Scottish Hist. Soc.), 1892 passim; Hoskins's Charles II in the Channel Islands, 1854, ii. 358–62, 372; Select Biographies (Wodrow Soc.), 1845, i. 169–81; Cal. Clarendon State Papers, ii. 4, 32, 38, 39, 51, 57, 65, 66; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, p. 157.]

E. I. C.