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Kirkcaldy Of Grange, Sir William

KIRKCALDY OF GRANGE, SIR WILLIAM (c. 1520-1573), Scottish politician, was the eldest son of Sir James Kirkcaldy of Grange (d. 1556), a member of an old Fifeshire family. Sir James was lord high treasurer of Scotland from 1537 to 1543 and was a determined opponent of Cardinal Beaton, for whose murder in 1546 he was partly responsible. William Kirkcaldy assisted to compass this murder, and when the castle of St Andrews surrendered to the French in July 1547 he was sent as a prisoner to Normandy, whence he escaped in 1550. He was then employed in France as a secret agent by the advisers of Edward VI., being known in the cyphers as Corax; and later he served in the French army, where he gained a lasting reputation for skill and bravery. The sentence passed on Kirkcaldy for his share in Beaton's murder was removed in 1556, and returning to Scotland in 1557 he came quickly to the front; as a Protestant he was one of the leaders of the lords of the congregation in their struggle with the regent, Mary of Lorraine, and he assisted to harass the French troops in Fife. He opposed Queen Mary's marriage with Darnley, being associated at this time with Murray, and was forced for a short time to seek refuge in England. Returning to Scotland, he was accessory to the murder of Rizzio, but he had no share in that of Darnley; and he was one of the lords who banded themselves together to rescue Mary after her marriage with Bothwell. After the fight at Carberry Hill the queen surrendered herself to Kirkcaldy, and his generalship was mainly responsible for her defeat at Langside.

He seems, however, to have believed that an arrangement with Mary was possible, and coming under the influence of Maitland of Lethington, whom in September 1569 he released by a stratagem from his confinement in Edinburgh, he was soon " vehemently suspected of his fellows." After the murder of Murray Kirkcaldy ranged himself definitely among the friends of the imprisoned queen. About this time he forcibly released one of his supporters from imprisonment, a step which led to an altercation with his former friend John Knox, who called him a " murderer and throat-cutter." Defying the regent Lennox, Kirkcaldy began to strengthen the fortifications of Edinburgh castle, of which he was governor, and which he held for Mary, and early in 1573 he refused to come to an agreement with the regent Morton because the terms of peace did not include a section of his friends. After this some English troops arrived to help the Scots, and in May 1573 the castle surrendered. Strenuous efforts were made to save Kirkcaldy from the vengeance of his foes, but they were unavailing; Knox had prophesied that he would be hanged, and he was hanged on the 3rd of August IS73- See Sir James Melville's Memoirs, edited by T. Thomson ( Edinburgh, 1827) ; J. Grant, Memoirs and Adventures of Sir W. Kirkaldy (Edinburgh, 1849); L. A. BarbiS, Kirkcaldy of Grange (1897); and A. Lang, History of Scotland, vol. ii. (1902).

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

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