Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sibbald, William

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

SIBBALD, WILLIAM (d. 1650), royalist, of Scottish family, may be identical with William Sibbald who entered King's College, Aberdeen, in 1634, and graduated M.A. in 1639 (Fasti Aberdonenses, Spalding Club, pp. 462, 511). In early life he attached himself to James Graham, fifth earl and first marquis of Montrose [q. v.], from whom he received many favours. He served under Montrose in the cause of the covenanters. On 30 June 1640 Sibbald was entrusted with the charge of the house of Airlie, which Montrose had just taken from James Ogilvy, second earl of Airlie [q. v.] Within a week, however, the Earl of Argyll ordered Sibbald to deliver the place to him, and rased it to the ground. When Montrose became a royalist, Sibbald adopted the same cause, and in 1644 accompanied Montrose in his secret journey to Scotland. They left Carlisle on 18 Aug., accompanied only by Sir William Rollo [q. v.], Montrose being disguised as Sibbald's groom. Holding the commission of lieutenant-colonel, he accompanied the marquis on his highland campaign. At the close of the year, however, when Argyll brought Montrose to bay at Fyvie Castle, Sibbald, perhaps despairing of the cause, deserted to the enemy. On hearing this, Montrose, who was on the point of marching towards Badenoch, halted his troops and remained stationary for several days in order to discredit any information as to his plans that Sibbald might furnish to his opponents.

Whatever were Sibbald's motives for his desertion, he soon returned to his old allegiance, and readily obtained pardon for his pusillanimity. After the battle of Philiphaugh (September 1645) he sought refuge in Holland. In 1649 he crossed to Scotland, bearing letters from Montrose to Prince Rupert, James Butler, marquis (afterwards duke) of Ormonde [q. v.], and Sir George Monro [q. v.] He was also charged to foment the discontent which the Act of Classes had roused among the lowland gentry. But soon after landing he was arrested at Musselburgh. On his examination he refused at first to give information, but, being tortured, he is said to have confessed to a plot to seize Edinburgh Castle. He was beheaded, with Hay of Dalgetty, on 7 June 1650 at the Mercat Cross, Edinburgh. He had composed a dying speech, but did not deliver it. After talking a little ‘to the disorderly rabble about him,’ says one author, ‘he march'd to the block with such an heroick gesture as if he had been to act a gallant in a play’ (Montrose Rediv. pp. 175, 187).

[Gardiner's Civil War, ii. 134; Gardiner's Commonwealth, i. 233, 260; Last Speech of Sibbald; Wishart's Memoirs of Montrose, ed. 1819, p. 492; Wishart's Deeds of Montrose, ed. Murdoch and Simpson, pp. 19, 50, 244; Turner's Memoirs, p. 92; Acts of Scottish Parl. vol. vi. pt. ii. pp. 564, 572, 573; Graymond to Brienne, Harl. MS. 4551, f. 515.]

E. I. C.