Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Baillie, Grizel

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BAILLIE, Lady GRIZEL (1665–1746), poetess, was the eldest daughter of Sir Patrick Hume (or Home), afterwards first earl of Marchmont, and was born at Redbraes Castle, Berwickshire, on 25 Dec. 1665. So early as her twelfth year she gave proof of a singularly mature character; for when she had not yet entered her teens, she was entrusted by her father with a perilous duty. Her father was the bosom friend of the illustrious patriot, Robert Baillie of Jerviswood [see Baillie, Robert, d. 1684]; and the latter being imprisoned, Sir Patrick Hume was specially anxious to communicate with him by letter. He dared not himself attempt to gain admission; but he employed the services of his daughter, `little Grizel.' To her the all-important letter was handed over with the charge to deliver it personally, and to bring back as much intelligence from the state prisoner as possible. She contrived to deliver the letter and carry back grateful and useful messages from her father's friend. In the performance of this task she had to consult with the prisoner's own son, George Baillie of Jerviswood, who fell in love with her, and married her some years later, on 17 Sept. 1692.

The same womanly heroism and self-possession were shown by young Grizel on behalf of her own father. As the trial of Robert Baillie of Jerviswood—described in the contemporary broad-sheets and elsewhere—attests. Sir Patrick Hume boldly went to the court and, wherever he could, interfered in defence of his great friend, sometimes blunting with rare skill the edge of manufactured `false witness,' to the rage of the prosecutors. He was equally with Baillie a suspected man; and, the troopers having taken possession of his house, Redbraes Castle, he had to hide in the vaults of neighbouring Polwarth parish kirk. Thither at midnight, his brave little daughter was wont to carry her father food, contriving at the dinner-table to drop into her lap as much of victuals as she well could.

On the death, by hanging, of Baillie of Jerviswood, the Hume family fled to Holland. They settled at Utrecht, Sir Patrick passing as a Dr. Wallace. In the `Memoirs' of Lady Murray of Stanhope, Lady Grizel's daughter, delightful glimpses are obtained of the bright though straitened life in Holland. Grizel was the manager of the humble establishment, and she used to tell in her old age that those years in Holland were about the happiest of all their lives.

At the Restoration, Lady Grizel was offered the post of maid of honour to the Princess of Orange. She preferred returning to Scotland, where, as already stated, she was married to her girlhood's love. George Baillie died at Oxford 6 Aug. 1738, after forty-six years of an incomparable married life. They had issue one son, who died in childhood, and two daughters: Grizel, who married Sir Alexander Murray of Stanhope; and Rachel, who married Charles, Lord Binning. From the latter are descended the earls of Haddington who represent to-day the great historic house of Baillie of Jerviswood and Mellerstain. There are few more charming `Memoirs' than that named of our Lady Grizel by her daughter. It was originally appended to Rose's Observations on Fox's historical work on James II, and afterwards republished in a thin quarto by Thomas Thomson (1822). From earliest youth Grizel was wont to write in verse and prose. Her daughter had in her possession a manuscript volume with varied compositions, 'many of them interrupted, half writ, some broken off in the middle of a sentence.' Some of her Scottish songs appeared in Allan Ramsay's 'Tea-Table Miscellany' and other collections of Scottish songs. One has passed into the song-literature of Scotland imperishably—'And werena my heart light I wad dee.' ' Its sudden inspiration,' says Tytler, `has fused and cast into one perfect line, the protest of thousands of stricken hearts in every generation' (Tytler and Watson's Songstresses of Scotland). She died 6 Dec. 1746, in her eighty-first year, and was buried beside her husband at Mellerstain. Judge Burnet (Monboddo) wrote an inscription for her monument.

[Authorities cited in the article.]

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