Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 31.djvu/214

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comfortable or a well-disciplined ship. Her chaplain was discharged, on her return from the Mediterranean, on account of some unpleasantness with the captain; the boatswain was broken and flogged, by sentence of court-martial, for disobedience and insolence; a seaman was sentenced to be flogged and ‘towed ashore’ for ‘scandalous actions, to the great corruption of good manners;’ and on her return from the West Indies in 1698 Kirkby himself was tried on charges of embezzling, plunder, and of cruelty and oppression. The alleged embezzlement admitted of a satisfactory explanation, and he was acquitted of cruelty, though it appeared that he had punished a seaman for straggling by ordering him to be ‘tied up by the right arm and left leg for several hours,’ the right foot being, however, allowed to rest on the deck. In February 1700–1 Kirkby was appointed to the Ruby, and again sent out to the West Indies. He arrived at Barbadoes in November, and in March went on to Jamaica. There he was moved into the Defiance. The death of Rear-admiral Martin had left him ‘the eldest officer under the flag;’ and though in May he was superseded from this position by the arrival of Rear-admiral Whetstone, he remained the senior captain on the station. He was thus second in command of the squadron which sailed in August under Vice-admiral Benbow [q. v.], and which met the French squadron off Santa Marta on the 19th. Benbow's signals to close the enemy and engage were not obeyed; a mutinous, disobedient, or cowardly spirit took possession of almost all the captains; and Kirkby, as the senior, appears to have been the prime mover in the crime. The result was that after a running skirmish of five days, those English ships that engaged were beaten off, and Benbow was himself mortally wounded. On the return of the squadron to Jamaica, Kirkby and his fellow-mutineers were tried by court-martial. One had died previously, two were suspended, one was cashiered, Kirkby and Wade were sent home in the Bristol [see Acton, Edward], and were shot on board her on 16 April 1703, two days after her arrival in Plymouth Sound. Kirkby had written a long letter to the secretary of the admiralty, alleging that the admiral's injudicious and ignorant conduct was the cause of his defeat; that the court-martial was ordered in dread of an inquiry into his own fault, and that the same dread had made him desirous of hurrying on the execution, which the court-martial had not agreed to. His plea, however, is contradicted by the evidence of the court-martial, the witnesses, whether belonging to other ships or to the Defiance, agreeing with remarkable unanimity in the details of Kirkby's misconduct.

[Charnock's Biog. Nav. ii. 329; Burchett's Transactions at Sea; Lediard's Naval Hist.; minutes of courts-martial, letters and other documents in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.

KIRKCALDY or KIRKALDY, Sir JAMES (d. 1556), of Grange, lord high treasurer of Scotland, was descended from the elder branch of a family which at a very early period had been settled in Fifeshire, his father being William Kirkaldy of Grange. Introduced to the court of James V by his father-in-law, Sir John Melville of Raith, he soon became a special favourite of the king, who made him a lord of the bedchamber, and on 24 March 1537 appointed him lord high treasurer of Scotland. He was one of the chief opponents of the ambitious political projects of Cardinal Beaton and the ecclesiastics. It was chiefly owing to his persuasion that the king refused to sanction the punishment of a number of noblemen and barons whose names had been inscribed by Cardinal Beaton on a ‘scroll’ as guilty of heresy (Knox, Works, i. 82–4; and more at length in Sir James Melville's Memoirs, pp. 60–2). He also advised the king to check the power of the ecclesiastics and increase the revenues of the crown by retaking possession of the benefices as they fell vacant (ib. p. 63). The supporters of Beaton were afraid to oppose his statements in his presence; for, according to Sir James Melville, he was ‘a stout, bold man,’ ready to maintain his words at the point of the sword. But during his absence from court, at the marriage of his second son to the heiress of Kelly, they persuaded the king to grant a warrant for his imprisonment. Arriving, however, suddenly in Edinburgh, he obtained an interview with the king before the warrant could be executed, and got it countermanded (ib. p. 67). According to Melville it was during the absence of Kirkcaldy at this time that James V was induced to withdraw from his engagement to meet Henry VIII at York (ib.) After the rout of Solway (25 Nov. 1542) the king on his way to Falkland visited Kirkcaldy's house at Hallyards, but Kirkcaldy himself was absent (Knox, i. 90). Chiefly by the persuasion of Kirkcaldy, the Earl of Arran, on the death of the king shortly afterwards, was induced to assume the regency, in order to counteract Cardinal Beaton's attempt to place himself and three other persons in the regency (ib. i. 93; Sir James Melville, Memoirs, p. 71). The cardinal nevertheless soon persuaded Arran to dismiss Kirkcaldy from the treasurership.