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Gowrie, John Ruthven

GOWRIE, JOHN RUTHVEN, 3RD EARL OF (c. 1577-1600), Scottish conspirator, was the second son of William, 4th Lord Ruthven and 1st earl of Cowrie (cr. 1581), by his wife Dorothea, daughter of Henry Stewart, 2nd Lord Methven. The Ruthven family was of ancient Scottish descent, and had owned extensive estates in the time of William the Lion; the Ruthven peerage dated from the year 1488. The 1st earl of Cowrie (? 1541-1584), and his father, Patrick, 3rd Lord Ruthven (c. 1520-1566), had both been concerned in the murder of Rizzio in 1566; and both took an active part on the side of the Kirk in the constant intrigues and factions among the Scottish nobility of the period. The former had been the custodian of Mary, queen of Scots, during her imprisonment in Loch Leven, where, according to the queen, he had pestered her with amorous attentions; he had also been the chief actor in the plot known as the " raid of Ruthven " when King James VI. was treacherously seized while a guest at the castle of Ruthven in 1582, and kept under restraint for several months while the earl remained at the head of the government. Though pardoned for this conspiracy he continued to plot against the king in conjunction with the earls of Mar and Angus, and he was executed for high treason on the 2nd of May 1584; his friends complaining that the confession on which he was convicted of treason was obtained by a promise of pardon from the king. His eldest son, William, 2nd earl of Cowrie, only survived till 1588, the family dignities and estates, which had been forfeited, having been restored to him in 1586.

When, therefore, John Ruthven succeeded to the earldom while still a child, he inherited along with his vast estates family traditions of treason and intrigue. There was also a popular belief, though without foundation, that there was Tudor blood in his veins; and Burnet afterwards asserted that Gowrie stood next in succession to the crown of England after King James VI. Like his father and grandfather before him, the young earl attached himself to the party of the reforming preachers, who procured his election in 1592 as provost of Perth, a post that was almost hereditary in the Ruthven family. He received an excellent education at the grammar school of Perth and the university of Edinburgh, where he was in the summer of 1593, about the time when his mother, and his sister the countess of Atholl, aided Bothwell in forcing himself sword in hand into the king's bedchamber in Holyrood Palace. A few months later Gowrie joined with Atholl and Montrose in offering to serve Queen Elizabeth, then almost openly hostile to the Scottish king; and it is probable that he had also relations with the rebellious Bothwell. Gowrie had thus been already deeply engaged in treasonable conspiracy when, in August 1594, he proceeded to Italy with his tutor, William Rhynd, to study at the university of Padua. On his way home in 1599 he remained for some months at Geneva with the reformer Theodore Beza; and at Paris he made acquaintance with the English ambassador, who reported him to Cecil as devoted to Elizabeth's service, and a nobleman " of whom there may be exceeding use made." In Paris he may also at this time have had further communication with the exiled Bothwell; in London he was received with marked favour by Queen Elizabeth and her ministers.

These circumstances owe their importance to the light they throw on the obscurity of the celebrated " Gowrie conspiracy," .

which resulted in the slaughter of the earl and his brother by attendants of King James at Gowrie House, Perth, a few weeks after Cowrie's return to Scotland in May 1600. This The event ranks among the unsolved enigmas of history. Oon-rfe The mystery is caused by the improbabilities inherent in any of the alternative hypotheses suggested to account for the unquestionable facts of the occurrence; the discrepancies in the evidence produced at the time; the apparent lack of forethought or plan on the part of the chief actors, whichever hypothesis be adopted, as well as the thoughtless folly of their actual procedure; and the insufficiency of motive, whoever the guilty parties may have been. The solutions of the mystery that have been suggested are three in number: first, that Gowrie and his brother had concocted a plot to murder, or more probably to kidnap King James, and that they lured him to Gowrie House for this purpose; secondly, that James paid a surprise visit to Gowrie House with the intention, which he carried out, of slaughtering the two Ruthvens; and thirdly, that the tragedy was the outcome of an unpremeditated brawl following high words between the king and the earl, or his brother. To understand the relative probabilities of these hypotheses regard must be had to the condition of Scotland in the year 1600 (see SCOTLAND: History). Here it can only be recalled that plots to capture the person of the sovereign for the purpose of coercing his actions were of frequent occurrence, more than one of which had been successful, and in several of which the Ruthven family had themselves taken an active part; that the relations between England and Scotland were at this time more than usually strained, and that the young earl of Gowrie was reckoned in London among the adherents of Elizabeth; that the Kirk party, being at variance with James, looked upon Gowrie as an hereditary partisan of their cause, and had recently sent an agent to Paris to recall him to Scotland as their leader; that Gowrie was believed to be James's rival for the succession to the English crown. Moreover, as regards the question of motive it is to be observed, on the one hand, that the Ruthvens believed Cowrie's father to have been treacherously done to death, and his widow insulted by the king's favourite minister; while, on the other, James was indebted in a large sum of money to the earl of Cowrie's estate, and popular gossip credited either Gowrie or his brother, Alexander Ruthven, with being the lover of the queen. Although the evidence on these points, and on every minute circumstance connected with the tragedy itself, has been exhaustively examined by historians of the Gowrie conspiracy, it cannot be asserted that the mystery has been entirely dispelled; but, while it is improbable that complete certainty will ever be arrived at as to whether the guilt lay with James or with the Ruthven brothers, the most modern research in the light of materials inaccessible or overlooked till the 20th century, points pretty clearly to the conclusion that there was a genuine conspiracy by Gowrie and his brother to kidnap the king. If this be the true solution, it follows that King James was innocent of the blood of the Ruthvens; and it raises the presumption that his own account of the occurrence was, in spite of the glaring improbabilities which it involved, substantially true.

The facts as related by James and other witnesses were, in outline, as follows. On the 5th of August 1600 the king rose early to hunt in the neighbourhood of Falkland Palace, about 14 m. from Perth. Just as he was setting forth in company with the duke of Lennox, the earl of Mar, Sir Thomas Erskine and others, he was accosted by Alexander Ruthven (known as the master of Ruthven), a younger brother of the earl of Gowrie, who had ridden from Perth that morning to inform the king that he had met on the previous day a man in possession of a pitcher full of foreign gold coins, whom he had secretly locked up in a room at Gowrie House. Ruthven urged the king to ride to Perth to examine this man for himself and to take possession of the treasure. After some hesitation James gave credit to the story, suspecting that the possessor of the coins was one of the numerous Catholic agents at that time moving about Scotland in disguise. Without giving a positive reply to and Maranhao. A considerable part of southern Goyaz, however, slopes southward and the drainage is through numerous small streams flowing into the Paranahyba, a large tributary of the Parana. The general elevation of the plateau is estimated to be about 2700 ft., and the highest elevation was reported in 1892 to be the Serra dos Pyrenees (5250 ft.). Crossing the state N.N.E. to S.S.W. there is a well-defined chain of mountains, of which the Pyrenees, Santa Rita and Santa Martha ranges form parts, but their elevation above the plateau is not great. The surface of the plateau is generally open campo and scrubby arboreal growth called caatingas, but the streams are generally bordered with forest, especially in the deeper valleys. Towards the N. the forest becomes denser and of the character of the Amazon Valley. The climate of the plateau is usually described as temperate, but it is essentially sub-tropical. The valley regions are tropical, and malarial fevers are common. The cultivation of the soil is limited to local needs, except in the production of tobacco, which is exported to neighbouring states. The open campos afford good pasturage, and live stock is largely exported. Gold-mining has been carried on in a primitive manner for more than two centuries, but the output has never been large and no very rich mines have been discovered. Diamonds have been found, but only to a very limited extent. There is a considerable export of quartz crystal, commercially known as " Brazilian pebbles," used in optical work. Although the northern and southern extremities of Goyiz lie within two great river systems the Tocantins and Parana the upper courses of which are navigable, both of them are obstructed by falls. The only outlet for the state has been by means of mule trains to the railway termini of Sao Paulo and Minas Geraes, pending the extension of railways from both of those states, one entering Goyaz by way of Catalao, near the southern boundary, and the other at some point further N.

The capital of the state is GOYAZ, or Villa-Boa de Goyaz, a mining town on the Rio Vermelho, a tributary of the Araguaya rising on the northern slopes of the Serra de Santa Rita. Pop. (1890) 6807. gold was discovered here in 1682 by Bartholomeu Bueno, the first European explorer of this region, and the settlement founded by him was called Santa Anna, which is still the name of the parish. The site of the town is a barren, rocky mountain valley, 1900 ft. above sea-level, in which the heat is most oppressive at times and the nights are unpleasantly cold. Goyaz is the see of a bishopric founded in 1826, and possesses a small cathedral and some churches.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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