Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Inglis, James

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INGLIS, JAMES (d. 1531), abbot of Culross, was clerk of the closet to James IV in 1511, when he received, according to the ‘Treasurer's Accounts,’ his livery and the instalment of his annual salary of 40l. He seems to have had the confidence of the king, who thanks him in one of his letters (Epistolæ Regum Scotorum) for an offer of certain rare books on alchemy. He became chaplain to Prince James (afterwards James V), to whom Sir David Lyndsay was usher, and in 1515 was secretary to Queen Margaret. He was also entrusted with money for the purchase of clothes, &c., for the young prince and his brother. In 1515 Inglis was in England on the queen's business (cf. his letters in the Cottonian MSS.) Like Lyndsay, he had a share in providing dramatic entertainments for royalty, and in 1526 received money, ‘be the king's precept,’ to purchase stage apparel (cf. Treasury Records). In 1527 he is described in a charter as chancellor of the Royal Chapel of Stirling, and in the same year was ‘master of werk,’ at an annual salary of 40l., superintending the erection of buildings for the king (cf. ib.). About the same time he was appointed abbot of Culross. On 1 March 1531, for a reason unknown, he was murdered by his neighbour, John Blacater, baron of Tulliallan, and a priest named William Lothian. Summary vengeance followed on 28 Aug., when ‘John Blacater of Tullyalloune and William Louthian (publicly degraded from his orders in the Kingis presence the preceding day), being convicted by an assize of art and part of the cruel slaughter of James Inglis, abbot of Culross, were beheaded’ (Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. *151).

Sir David Lyndsay, in stanza v. of the prologue to ‘The Testament and Complaynt of our Soverane Lordis Papyngo,’ regrets the repression of Inglis's poetic gift owing to his holding ecclesiastical preferment:—

Quho can say more than Schir James Inglis sayis,
In ballattis, farses, and in plesand playis?
Bot Culrose hes his pen maid impotent.

His writings are lost, although the Maitland MS. credits him with a vigorous onslaught on the clergy entitled ‘A General Satyre,’ which, however, the Bannatyne MS., with distinct plausibility, assigns to Dunbar. Mackenzie's rash assumption, in his ‘Writers of the Scots Nation,’ that Inglis wrote the ‘Complaynt of Scotland’ (which was not printed till 1549), has unnecessarily complicated the question regarding the authorship of that work. Another ecclesiastic named Inglis figures in the ‘Treasurer's Accounts’ of 1532 as singing ‘for the kingis saule at Banakburne,’ and if an Inglis wrote the ‘Complaynt,’ this may have been the man. Robert Wedderburn, however, is the most likely author (see LAING, Dunbar).

[Lesley's De Rebus Gestis Scotorum; Pinkerton's Hist. of Scotland, vol. ii.; Dunbar's Poems, ed. Laing, ii. 390, and Laing's preface to The Gude and Godlie Ballates; Chambers's Eminent Scotsmen; Irving's Hist. of Scotish Poetry.]

T. B.