Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lyon, John (d.1578)

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LYON, JOHN, eighth Lord Glammis (d. 1578), lord high chancellor of Scotland, was the eldest son of John, seventh lord [q. v.], by his wife, Janet Keith, daughter of Robert, lord Keith, and sister of the fourth Earl Marischal. He succeeded to the earldom on the death of his father in 1558. His name first appears in the list of members of the privy council at a meeting of 22 Dec. 1561 (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 192). On 10 Sept. 1563 the island of Inchkeith was committed to his charge (Lord Herries, Memoirs, p. 67). He supported the marriage of the queen with Darnley, and took part in the roundabout raid against the Earl of Moray (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 379). At the time of the murder of Darnley he was in Edinburgh, but there is no evidence that he had any knowledge of the conspiracy. He signed the bond in Ainslie's tavern for the marriage of Bothwell to the queen, but afterwards joined the association for the overthrow of Bothwell and the protection of the young king. On 16 Feb. 1568–9 he was appointed one of a committee for the pursuit of the Earl of Huntly (ib. i. 645). He was one of those who voted against the queen's divorce, 31 July 1569 (ib. ii. 8), and assisted with other seven noblemen in bearing the body of the Regent Moray at his funeral to the church of St. Giles, 14 Feb. 1569–70. On 30 Sept. 1570 he was appointed an extraordinary lord of session. After Moray's death he became a close associate of his kinsman Morton, whom in 1570–1 he accompanied on an embassy to England, in order to defeat the proposals to restore Queen Mary to the throne. On 18 June 1572 he was ordered with other northern nobles to proceed against Adam Gordon of Auchindown, who had invaded the Mearns (ib. ii. 143), and in July he barely escaped capture by Gordon at Brechin (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1572–1574, entry 460); he was reported not to have behaved himself well on the watch (ib. p. 461). On 2 Sept. 1573 he and other barons of the north signed a band of allegiance to the regent (Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 400), and he was supposed to be one of the most loyal of Morton's supporters. On the death of the fifth Earl of Argyll he was appointed to succeed him as lord chancellor of Scotland on 12 Oct. 1573.

When the question of episcopacy was occupying the attention of the lords of the congregation, he corresponded with Theodore Beza on the subject in 1575, and Beza wrote the treatise ‘De triplici Episcopatu’ in answer to some of his queries. After the complaint of the Earl of Argyll [see Campbell, Colin sixth Earl] to the young king, 4 March 1577–8, regarding Morton's insolent and overbearing demeanour, Glammis joined with other noblemen in advising Morton's resignation, and was one of a deputation sent to ask him to resign. In consenting, Morton is supposed to have been partly influenced by Glammis's advice, and his subsequent knowledge that Glammis, like the others, was a party to his fall is said to have deeply affected him. Glammis was accidentally slain shortly afterwards in a street brawl in Stirling between his followers and those of David Lindsay, tenth earl of Crawford. He was shot through the head with a pistolet, and Hume of Godscroft ascribes his death to the fact that he was ‘a tall man of stature, and higher than the rest.’ Calderwood describes him as a ‘learned, godly, and wise man’ (History, ii. 397). He was mild and conciliatory in disposition. Andrew Melville composed a Latin epigram on the death of Glammis, which was translated by James Melville thus:

Since lowlie lyes thow, noble Lyon fyne,
What sall betide, behind, to dogges and swyne?
    (Diary, p. 47.)

By his wife Elizabeth Abernethy, only daughter of Alexander, sixth lord Salton, Glammis had a son, Patrick, ninth lord Glammis, and two daughters: Jean, married first to Robert Douglas younger of Lochleven, secondly to Archibald, eighth earl of Angus, and thirdly to Alexander, lord Spynie; and Elizabeth, married to Patrick, seventh lord Gray.

[Authorities quoted in the text; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 563–4; Crawfurd's Officers of State, pp. 132–4; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice, pp. 147–9.]

T. F. H.