Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Campbell, Colin (d.1530)

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CAMPBELL, COLIN, third Earl of Argyll (d. 1530), eldest son of Archibald, second earl of Argyll [q. v.], and Elizabeth Stewart, eldest daughter of John, first earl of Lennox, immediately after succeeding his father in 1513 was charged with the suppression of the insurrection of Lauchlan Maclean of Dowart and other highland chiefs in support of Sir Donald of Lochalsh, whom they had proclaimed Lord of the Isles. By his powerful influence Argyll succeeded, without having recourse to arms, in inducing them to submit to the regent; but though even Sir Donald himself agreed to terms of reconciliation, this was only a feint to gain time. In 1517, by giving out that the ‘lieutenandry’ of the Isles had been bestowed on him by the regent, he secured the assistance of a number of chiefs, with whom he proceeded to ravage the lands which, according to his statement, had been committed to his protection. The deception could not be maintained, and finding that the chiefs had determined to deliver him up to the government he made his escape. It was principally through the representations of Argyll that the designs of Sir Donald had been defeated, and he now presented a petition that ‘for the honour of the realm and the commonweal in time coming’ he should receive a commission of ‘lieutenandry’ over all the Isles and adjacent mainland, with authority to receive into the king’s favour all the men of the Isles who should make their submission to him, upon proper security being given by the delivery of hostages and otherwise; the last condition being made imperative, ‘because the men of the Isles are fickle of mind, and set but little value upon their oaths and written obligations.’ He also received express power to pursue the rebels with fire and sword, and to possess himself of Sir Donald’s castle of Strone in Lochcarron. Sir Donald for some time not only succeeded in maintaining a following in the wilder fastnesses, but in 1518 took summary vengeance on MacIan of Ardnamurchan, one of the principal supporters of the government, by defeating and slaying him and his two sons at the Silver Craig in Morvern. Argyll thereupon advised that sentence of forfeiture should be passed against him, and on this being refused he took a solemn protest before parliament that neither he nor his heirs should be liable for any mischiefs that might in future arise from rebellions in the Isles. The death of Sir Donald not long afterwards relieved Argyll from further anxiety on his account, and he took advantage of the interval of tranquillity which followed to extend his influence among the chiefs, and to promote the aggrandisement of his family and clan. These were the motives which, rather than that of loyalty to the government, had chiefly influenced his zeal in the suppression of rebellion. The authority of Argyll in the western highlands also greatly increased his general influence in Scotland, a fact sufficiently evidenced by his appointment, in February 1525, to be one of the governors of the kingdom after the retirement of the Duke of Albany to France. Several documents in the State Papers of England indicate that special efforts were made to ‘separate’ Argyll from the regent (State Papers, Henry VIII, vol. iii. pt. ii. entry 3228), and render it probable that he was won ‘with a sober thing of money’ (entry 3339). He was intimately concerned in the scheme for the ‘erection’ of King James in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh in 1526, and it was agreed that the earls of Angus, Argyll, and Erroll should each have the monarch in charge for a quarter of a year in succession. Angus had the charge for the first quarter, but at the end of it refused to give him up, ‘quhilk causit great discord’ (Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 10). After the escape of King James from Falkland in May 1528, where he had been kept in close confinement by Angus, Argyll joined him in Stirling, and accompanied him to Edinburgh as one of his most trusted counsellors. On 6 Dec. he received a charter for the barony of Abernethy, in Perthshire, forfeited by Angus. The same year he was appointed lieutenant of the borders and warden of the marches, and was entrusted with the task of suppressing the insurrection raised on the borders by Angus, whom he compelled to flee into England. Afterwards he received confirmation of the hereditary sheriffship of Argyllshire, and of the offices of justiciary of Scotland and master of the household, by which these offices became hereditary in his family. On 25 Oct. 1529 he had the renewal of the commission of lord justice-general of Scotland. On account of an insurrection in the south Isles, headed by Alexander of Isla and the Macleans, he demanded extraordinary powers from the king for the reduction of the Isles under the dominion of law; but James suspecting his purposes resolved to try conciliatory measures, and while negotiations were in progress the Earl of Argyll died, in 1530. By his wife, Lady Jane Gordon, eldest daughter of the third earl of Huntly, he left three sons and one daughter, the latter of whom was married to James, earl of Moray, natural son of James IV. He was succeeded in the earldom by his eldest son Archibald, fourth earl (d. 1558) [q. v.]

[Register of the Great Seal of Scotland; Calendar of State Papers (Scottish Series), pp. 9,12, 21, 23; State Papers, Reign of Henry VIII (Dom. Ser.), vol. iii. pt. ii.; Diurnal of Remarkable Occurrents (Bannatyne Club, 1833); Bishop Lesley’s History of Scotland (Bannatyne Club, 1830); Donald Gregory’s History of the Western Islands; Douglas’s Scotch Peerage, i. 90-1.]

T. F. H.