Teaching a Donkey to Speak Sir Robert Richardson, Treasurer of Scotland

Sir Robert Richardson matriculatd from the University of St. Andrews in 1532.

A physician at court accepted the impossible task of teaching a donkey to speak. Other doctors had failed and been executed. This doctor told the King it would take ten years and be very expensive. Why would you accept such a task, asked the court jesters? In ten years, I, the donkey, or the King might be dead, but I will have made good money. Sir Robert Richardson laughed at the story, just as I his descendent.

Sir Robert Robertson is my 12th great grandfather, on my maternal tree. It was the King who collected taxes and called men into battle; however the ordinary person owed their allegiance to the Catholic faith in Scotland. Sir Robert was well educated. King James IV was a wise and effective ruler of Scotland. The King built Holyrood Palace (where Queen Elizabeth II lied in state), brought the printing presses to Scotland and passed the Education Act in 1496, making compulsory school for eldest sons and heirs of land barons. Sir Robert qualified as oldest and the Burgess of Jedburgh. He entered the south door at the University of St. Andrew’s, College of the Holy Savior. The collegiate church was a magnificent building, stained glass filled it with the sun’s brilliance. Two ugly faces guarded the entrance as guardians to drive off the forces of evil. They glowered down on the youth. Flanking the east window into twin leaves of the ancient door was another gentler face. In the chapel where Sir Robert knelt, were several fine carvings. Canopied niches were filled with statues of saints and biblical figures. In a niche on the chapel exterior was the Virgin and child statue. The Romans, Normans and Celts had invaded and they brought Christianity; Scotland was Catholic. The Scottish Church established independence from England. The crown was able to influence appointments to the Church and rewarded the Lords, until during Sir Robert’s time, Scotland underwent a Protestant Reformation, 1560, creating a Calvinist kirk, with a Presbyterian outlook. Church ministers were confronted with a stark choice. What will Sir Robert do?

Sir Robert Richardson graduated MA (Master of Arts) in 1532 with a theological education of the Scottish clergy. His friend was George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly, also a Scottish nobleman, born the same year of 1514. At the request of this Earl, Sir Robert was also made a burgess, like his father, Sir Robert Richardson, Burgess of Jedburgh. George Gordon inherited his earldom and estates in 1524, at age 10. His grandfather was King James IV. The 4th Earl had command of the King’s Army and defeated the English 1542. Nepotism was how the court worked, and Sir Robert had many “friends”. Crawford, the historian, wrote, about Sir Robert, “A very wise and moderate man, kept to neutrality in his office of the court. He was never violent against the Queen, though he complied with the government under the young King.” There is so much English/Scottish history tied to this grandfather’s story.

Henry VIII, King of England invaded France, the year before grandfather Robert II was born in 1513. The King of Scotland, James IV answered France’s call for assistance. He led his large Scottish army into England on September 13, 1513. James IV was killed at the Battle of Floddon. James IV had married Margaret Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII in 1502. The 30 year old King and his 13 year old bride’s marriage was celebrated at Holyrood Abbey. Their son, James V, (1512-1542) was crowned at 17 months and during his childhood, Scotland was ruled by regents. Sir Robert Richardson was born in 1714, and he would have a say between Scotland and England.

Imagine if King Henry VIII hadn’t lusted and wanted a male heir?

King Henry VIII’s first born daughter, from first wife Catherine of Aragon, was the only child to survive to adulthood. There had many other still births and miscarriages. At age nine, her younger 1/2 brother, Edward I, took the throne. As a child, Edward, ruled though regencies that were dominated by Protestants. When he became ill he fought to have his half-sister, Mary, who was raised a Catholic, removed from the line of succession, rightly believing that Bloody Mary or Queen Mary Tudor, of England, would reverse the Protestant reforms that had taken place during his reign.

With no male heirs, King Henry VIII attempted to have his marriage annulled by Pope Clement who refused his request. Henry repudiated the pope’s authority, declaring himself Supreme Head of the Church of England. Mary Tudor was declared illegitimate. The King’s chief minister was Thomas Cromwell. He dissolved and confiscated the Catholic monasteries, under Kings Henry and Edward. Lady Jane, a relative of Mary’s, was pronounced Queen and reigned for 9 days! Mary rode triumphantly into London on August 3, 1553, on a wave of popular support, from the Catholics. She married for political and strategic gains, Philip, from Spain. The confiscated monastery lands were not returned to the church but remained in the hands of their influential new owners. Some of my English ancestors, like John Bail, (my paternal side) fled into exile. Those who stayed and publicly proclaimed their beliefs became targets of heresy laws. Queen Mary, during her her five year reign, in England, had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake.

Over in Scotland, as each King died, he left a child, as heir to the throne, Scotland was ruled by regents and factions struggled for possession of the youths. These regents are an important part of Sir Robert’s story. King James IV (1488-1513) was fifteen when his father died and was a successful Stewart monarch, a patron of the arts and law, literature and science flourished. He founded the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the University of Aberdeen, built Holyrood Palace and rebuilt Edinburgh and Stirling Castles. His 25 year reign, doubled the royal income, had control over the Scottish Catholic Church and with his marriage came a peace treaty with England. He rewarded his followers by making them Lords and Sirs. James IV married Margaret Tudor 1489-1541, eldest of King Henry VII of England. Eventually the two counties of England and Scotland would be united, The Union of the Crowns, in 1603. But first, King James IV died at the Battle of Flodden, leaving his seventeen month old so as King with control of Scotland in the regents hands. It is into this historical backdrop the Richardson’s were born in Scotland.

My 13th great grandfather, Sir Robert Richardson, 1490-1556, was born during the reign of King James IV 1473-1513.

Robert Richardson (Burgess of Jedburgh) Sir/Lord

Sir Robert Richardson and Euphemia Skene had a son.

Sir Lord Robert Richardson High Treasurer, Minister of Eckforde Parish

1514–Nov, 1578 aged 64

BIRTH 1514 • Midlothian, Lothian, Scotland, United Kingdom

Married on Feb 28, 1553 Lady Katherine Meredith born 1520 at Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland-1589. They had children: Sir Robert James Richardson, Katherine, Stephen and Janet.

DEATH NOVEMBER 1578 • St. Mary’s Isle, Kirkcubbright, Scotland, United Kingdom. The historian, George Crawfurd, wrote that Robert’s great grandfather arrived in Scotlatnd in 1424, during the reign of James I. At the request of the fourth earl of Huntly, Sir Lord Robert Richardson was also made a burgess. He matriculated at St. Salvator’s College, St. Andrews, in 1531 and graduated MA in 1532.

King Henry VIII attempted to have his first marriage annulled by Pope Clement, who refused the request. Henry repudiated the Pope’s authority, declaring himself in 1534, Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved the convents and monasteries of the Catholics. His daughter, Mary Tudor, raised a Catholic, was declared illegitimate, but would become Queen of England. England was Catholic, Protestant, Catholic, Protestant depending on who was King or Queen.

In 1542, King James V had just died leaving an infant daughter, Mary, with no male heirs. Mary Stewart, born the only legitimate daughter of King James V and his second wife, Mary of Guise, French noblewoman, was also the great-niece of Henry VIII of England, giving her a claim to the English throne.

Imagine if the winds had blown faster and Lord Lennox had arrived on time to be regent, to the baby, Mary, Queen of Scots? Instead there was war over her. Who should the baby wed? What was the discussion and decision Sir Robert Richardson made!

Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, was the leader of the Catholic nobility in Scotland. He’d become the paternal grandfather of King James VI of Scotland and I of England. He was sent to France for schooling, but returned to Scotland, to rival James Hamilton for the hand of the newly widowed, Mary of Guise. He arrived 2 days late! The 2nd Earl of Arran, James Hamilton, had been declared by parliament, Arran as Regent and heir to the throne after the infant, 6 day old, Mary, Queen of Scots. Hamilton made the treaty to betroth Mary to Prince Edward Tudor, son and heir of King Henry VIII of England. Mary and her mother, Mary of Guise, had been held captive. She opposed the match and forced its’ cancellation. With the treaty, Lennox escorted Mary to Stirling Castle on July 26, 1543. The Parliament of Scotland rejected the treaty, Lennox seized the French money and artillery sent to Mary of Guise and she offered the hand of her daughter Queen Mary in marriage. Lennox changed sides, and supported King Henry VIII’s military efforts to secure a marriage between Queen Mary and his son, Prince Edward, in the war now known as the Rough Wooing.

King Henry VIII wanted Scotland to agree to his son Edward’s marriage at age 6 to an infant queen, Mary, (who would become Mary, Queen of Scots) thereby creating a new alliance between Scotland and England. The Scottish 2nd Earl of Arran, James Hamilton, was regent over the minor Queen and renounced the treaties, 1543. Scottish people liked not the nature of the wooing, and did not want Scotland to be bullied into love. Technically, Lennox and Richardson were traitors. A letter was written to her mother, the regent of Mary, Mary of Guise, placing the blame on Lennox; however, Arran had already ordered the attack on Glasgow. Lennox’s men took up position at the Bothwell Castle and were taken March 8, 1544. Lennox was at Dumbarton Castle. Hamilton’s forces met Lennox’s followers at Glasgow Moor, a mile east of town. 800 men drove back Hamilton’s and captured a cannon. The Boyd’s and others, clan fighting clan, valiantly thrust themselves into the combat giving Hamilton favor. There were 300 slain, on Glasgow’s Moor. Lenox’s garrison surrendered, gallows were set up, in the street, and the leaders hung. Lennox escaped to England. Sir Richard would be pardoned and gained the trust of Mary of Guise.

A furious King Henry invaded Scotland and razed towns, and border abbeys. The English didn’t care what the Scottish thought. They wanted to pulverize Scotland, beat her to agree or completely out of existence so a reign of terror occurred, with extermination of all resisters. The war was called the Rough Wooing. The Scottish common people did not want an Englishman for their King. The English, soon after the Glasgow battle, in May of 1544 burnt Edinburgh, Holyroodhouse and the Abbey in 1544. The Rough Wooing lasted 8 years, then the English military withdrew from Scotland. Ten years later, a number of men received pardons for their presence at the battle on Lennox’s side against the Regent, my Sir Robert Richardson amongst them.

In August 1548, Lord Lennox gave four promises to Mary of Guise in order for her assent to the marriage of her daughter Mary, to the Dauphin of France. He and and friends would preserve the Catholic faith in Scotland, he’d keep the alliance with the French, that Guise would remain regent and guardian of her daughter, Mary, and that he’d punish all who supported the King of England.

Peaceful times would ensue. In 1549 Sir Robert Richardson, was at the Vicarage of Dunsyre and held the vicarage of Eckford by 1552. In that year he was provided by the Pope to the archdeaconry of Teviotdale, until 1565 and the parsonage of Morebattle. Teviotdale and Morebattle are villages on the Scottish borders, described as an unspoiled wilderness of green hills, rushing rivers and bleak barren moors. Later, Sir Robert retained usufruct (enjoying and profits of) the priory of St. Mary’s Isle, near Kirkcudbright, until his death in 1578. 12th Great Grandfather had another role to play in Scottish history. Sir Robert Richardson’s royal official career began around 1549 as comptroller clerk. By 1552 he was auditor of the treasurer’s account and made lord treasurer in April 1554, and was in charge of all business.

Palace of Holyroodhouse,, in Edinburgh, the Royal residence of the Scots. James IV and Margaret Tudor were married here in 1503.

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