Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/106

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


476


GEORGE LOCKHART.


against papists, but after a journey to London, concerted for the purpose of over- coming his scruples, to have entertained a different view 7 a view which, it is to be feared, was produced more by the benignant smile of royalty, than by a sud- den accession of liberal principles. On the question of the applicability of the dis- abling laws to the duke of York, he somewhat sophistically maintained that " a commission to represent the king's person fell not under the notion of an of- fice." 8 But, if he chose to assist the court in obtaining its ends by legal means, his former spirit returned on an attempted stretch of arbitrary power, and he objected to the privy council's sanctioning a relaxation, in favour of the Roman catholics, becoming law, through the mere royal prerogative. 9

This great man, whose talents and courage would have adorned a better period, fell a victim to the fury of one of those savages which misgovernment produces. He was murdered by John Chiesley of Dairy on the 31st of March, 1689.

The determination to commit the murder on the part of this man, arose from a dispute with his wife, the latter claiming aliment for herself and ten chil- dren, and the parties consenting that the claim should be settled by the arbitra- tion of Lockhart and lord Kemnay, who gave a decree appointing an annual sum out of Chiesley's estate to be paid to his wife. Infuriated at not being permitted to deprive his wife and offspring of their daily bread, he formed the resolution of taking vengeance on the president at whatever cost. On commu- nicating his intention to Mr James Stewart, advocate, he was answered that " it was a suggestion of the devil, and the very imagination of it a sin before God;" to which he replied, " Let God and me alone ; we have many things to reckon betwixt us, and we will reckon this too." The victim, it appears, was informed of his intention ; but he disdained precautions. The murderer confessed that, when in London, he had walked up and down Pall-mall, with a pistol beneath his coat, lying in wait for the president. The day on which he consummated the deed was Sunday. He charged his pistol, and went to church, where he watched the motions of his victim, and when Lockhart was returning to his own house through the close or lane on the south side of the Lawn Market, now known by the name of " The Old Bank Close," following close behind him, discharged a shot, which took effect. The president fell, and being carried into his own house, immediately expired, the ball having passed through his body. Chiesley did not attempt to escape, and, on being told that the president was dead, he expressed satisfaction, and said " he was not used to do things by halves. He was put to the torture, and made a full confession, and having been seen com- mitting the act, and apprehended immediately after, or as it is technically termed, " red hand" he was summarily tried before the provost of Edinburgh, as sheriff within the city. He was sentenced to have his right hand cut off while alive, to be hanged upon a gibbet with the instrument of murder suspend- ed from his neck, and his body to be hung in chains between Leith and Edinburgh. 10

LOCKHART, GEORGE, a celebrated political partisan, and author of Memoirs concerning the Affairs of Scotland, Commentaries, &c., &c., was the eldest son of the above, by Philadelphia, youngest daughter of Philip, fourth lord Wharton. He was born in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, in the year 1G73. He ap- pears to have been educated for the Scottish bar, but, having succeeded, on the death of his father, to a very ample fortune, he seems to have turned his at- tention chiefly to politics, and having obtained a seat in the Scottish parliament, 1703, he distinguished himself by his opposition to all the measures of the


' Fountainhall's Diary, 167. 10 Arnot's Orim. Tr., 168 74.


Burnet, i. 408.


Fountainhall, 192.