Ralston, John (DNB00)

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RALSTON, RALESTON, or RAULSTON, JOHN (d. 1452), bishop of Dunkeld, came of a family which traced its descent from Ralph, a son of one of the earls of Fife; but more probably it owed its name to Ralston, a village in Renfrewshire, where it had long been seated (Crawford, Hist. of Renfrewshire, 1782, pp. 170, 242). In 1426 John was chaplain and secretary to James I's nephew, Archibald Douglas, fifth earl of Douglas and second duke of Touraine [q. v.] Subsequently he became rector of Cambuslang, sacrist and canon of Glasgow, provost of Bothwell, and dean of Dunkeld. About 1440 he received the degree of doctor of laws. In February 1443–4 he was granted a safe-conduct to go on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, and in the same year was appointed secretary to James II, in which capacity he witnessed numerous royal grants. He also acted as auditor in the exchequer in 1444, 1445, 1447, 1449, and 1450. In 1447 he was made keeper of the privy seal and bishop of Dunkeld, being consecrated on 4 April 1448. In the latter year he was sent on an embassy to Charles VII, king of France, to renew the treaty between the two kingdoms, and to request Charles to recommend a French princess as wife of James II. The former object was accomplished on 31 Dec., but, there being no French princess eligible for James, the ambassadors proceeded to Philip of Burgundy, who suggested his kinswoman Mary of Gueldres [q. v.] After returning to Paris and securing the approval of Charles, the ambassadors concluded the marriage negotiation at Brussels. In June Ralston conducted Mary to Edinburgh, where she was married on 3 July 1449.

In the same year the bishop became lord high treasurer, resigning his offices of secretary and keeper of the privy seal. In September he was sent to England to renew the truce between the two kingdoms, and before the end of the year gave up the treasurership. In his official capacity he took a considerable part in the proceedings of the Scottish parliament in 1450 and 1451. In the latter year he was sent on a similar mission to England. He died towards the end of 1452, and was buried at Dunkeld.

[Reg. Magni Sigilli Scotiæ 1424–1513 passim; Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, vol. iv. No. 1163; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vol. v. pp. lxxiv. 143, 176, 258, 336, 369; Rotuli Scotiæ (Record edit.), ii. 332 a, 334 b, 336 a; Acts of the Parl. of Scotland, ii. 37, 59, 61–73; Reg. Eccl. Sanct. Egidiæ (Bannatyne Club), pp. 10, 23; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. p. 707b; Spotiswood's Hist. (Bannatyne Club), i. 197; Accounts of the Great Chamberlains of Scotland (Bannatyne Club), iii. 473, 493; Letters and Papers of Henry VI. (Rolls Ser.), i. 222, 240; Rymer's Fœdera, xi. 286; Nicolas's Proc. Privy Council, vi. 89, 105; A brief Chronicle of the Reign of James II, ed. Thomson (Bannatyne Club), p. 41; Mylne's Vitæ Episcop. Dunkeld. (Bannatyne Club), pp. 20–1; Crawfurd's Lives of the Officers of State in Scotland, 1726, pp. 359–60; Keith's Scottish Bishops, pp. 88–9; Tytler's Hist. of Scotland.]

A. F. P.