Logan, Robert (DNB00)

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LOGAN, Sir ROBERT (d. 1606), of Restalrig, supposed Gowrie conspirator, was descended from an old line of Scottish barons, who originally possessed Logan in Ayrshire, and acquired the barony of Restalrig, now partly occupied by South Leith, in the reign of Robert I. He was the son of Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig by his wife Agnes Gray, daughter of Patrick, lord Gray, and afterwards wife of Alexander, fifth lord Home [q. v.], and Sir Thomas Lyon [q. v.] He enjoyed a special reputation for lawlessness and violence. It was probably his father, described by Calderwood as ‘neither prudent nor fortunate,’ who sold the superiority of Leith in 1555 to the queen regent (History, i. 527). Logan supported the cause of Mary Stuart, at least after her escape to England, and was one of those who under Kirkcaldy of Grange held the castle of Edinburgh till its surrender in 1573 (ib. iii. 281; Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 218).

By his marriage to a daughter of Sir Patrick Hume, Logan in 1580 came into possession of Fast Castle, Berwickshire, with the adjoining lands, which gave him special facilities for a wild and lawless life. On 23 May 1587 he appears as one of the sureties for Patrick, master of Gray, and afterwards sixth lord Gray [q. v.], that he would leave the country within a month (ib. iv. 173). Some time afterwards he became conspicuous as the supporter of the turbulent Earl of Bothwell [see Hepburn, Francis Stewart, fifth Earl of Bothwell]; and on this account had on 16 Oct. 1591 to give security in 10,000l. not ‘to reset [i.e. harbour] or intercommune with the king's declared traitors’ (ib. p. 679). On 12 Feb. 1592–3, for failing to appear to answer for his conspiracy with Bothwell, he was denounced a rebel (ib. v. 42); and on 13 June 1594 he was again outlawed for failing to answer a charge of highway robbery preferred against his servants (ib. p. 148). In July of the same year he entered into a contract with Napier of Merchiston [see Napier, John, 1550–1617], by which the latter bound himself to use ‘all craft and engine’ to discover a treasure supposed to have been hid within Fast Castle, Logan undertaking to give him a third of what he discovered and to guard him safely back to Edinburgh. On 8 March 1598–9 Logan appeared before the council and bound himself not to ‘suffer his place of Fast Castle to be surprised by any of his majesty's traitors’ (ib. p. 539). On 1 Jan. of this year Lord Willoughby in a letter to Cecil describes him as ‘a main loose man; a great favourer of thieves reputed; yet a man of good clan, as they here term it: and a good fellow.’ In 1604 Logan disposed of the barony of Restalrig to Lord Balmerino. He died in July 1606. He had among other children a son Robert who succeeded him (ib. viii. 781).

After Logan's death, George Sprott [q. v.], a notary public in Eyemouth, Berwickshire, was apprehended in April 1608 on suspicion of implication in the conspiracy of Gowrie House. On being placed under torture he confessed his knowledge of certain letters written by Logan in connection with the plot, which, if genuine, proved that Logan had entered into an agreement to imprison the king in his stronghold of Fast Castle. After Sprott's execution on 12 Aug., Logan's bones were therefore exhumed from his grave and produced at a parliament held in June 1609, when Logan, on evidence of five letters then produced, and still extant in the Register House at Edinburgh, was declared to have been guilty of high treason, and sentence of forfeiture passed against him. Grave doubts of the genuineness of the letters have, however, been expressed by contemporaries; nor can it be said that subsequent research has done much to dissipate the mystery in which the conspiracy has been shrouded. Calderwood states that it was thought strange that ‘the Earl of Gowrie and his brother would communicate a purpose of such importance to the laird of Restalrig, a deboshed drunken man’ (History, vi. 779); and Spotiswood even goes so far as to affirm that Sprott's story was a ‘mere conceit of the man's own brain’ (History, iii. 200). The fact that no clear and full explanation is extant of how the letters were discovered, tends to cast suspicion on their authenticity, even if the story were not in itself inherently improbable.

[Acta Parl. Scot. iv. 419–28; Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, ii. 276–91; Reg. P. C. Scotl. vols. ii–viii.; Histories of Spotiswood and Calderwood. The plot and Logan's connection with it have been discussed by a considerable number of modern writers, none of whom have, however, contributed further new facts tending towards its elucidation.]

T. F. H.