The Gowrie Conspiracy.

 The Gowrie Conspiracy is one
of the mysteries of the reign of King James VI. The 2nd
Earl of Gowrie had been involved in the
Ruthven Raid, and had caused
the boy King James to burst into tears when he blocked his
way from leaving the room they were in. The Earl was
subsequently executed on 2 May 1584.  His son, John
Ruthven, 3rd Earl of Gowrie, was a popular provost of
Dundee in 1593 who had spent some months abroad in Geneva
where he had met the Divine, Theodore Beza. In August 1600
the King and a large retinue came to Gowrie`s home in
Perth, saying that he had been invited there by the Earl`s
brother, Alexander. For reasons never fully or
satisfactorily disclosed, a scuffle took place in which
the brothers were both killed. King James alleged that
they had tried to assassinate him and they had been killed
in the attempt. The circumstances were widely debated and
refuted much to James` annoyance and he  exhibited
extreme spite if anyone questioned the matter.


 An alternative twist to the
tale is that James had assembled some friends at Falkland
Palace to go hunting on 5 August 1600 and had been
approached by Alexander Ruthven, the younger brother of
the3rd Earl of Gowrie. Ruthven told the king that he had
come across a man, possibly a papal agent or Jesuit spy,
burying a pitcher of gold coins in a field outside Perth
and invited the king to come and see the man and claim the
gold for the Crown. On arriving at the Castle and seeing
the stranger Ruthven allegedly drew a dagger and made to
stab the king in revenge for having executed his father.
The kings cries for help were heard and a gentleman called
John Ramsay stabbed Ruthven in the neck; and, when the
Earl of Gowrie came into the room, Ramsay also killed him.
Ramsay was later knighted and made Earl of Holderness. In
a peculiar turn of events some 350 residents of Perth were
interrogated and some tortured; and, at the end of August
the bodies of the brothers Ruthven were given a trial
before Parliament. The corpses were pronounced guilty of
treason then hanged, drawn and quartered. Bizarre though
this was there may have been reason in it as the
conviction for treason would formally render the estates
of the deceased forfeit to the Crown.

Curiously ministers were
required to give thanks for his deliverance and they were
required to declare their belief of the King`s story. On
his return to Edinburgh on Monday 11 August 1600 James
with some nobles went to the Mercat Cross where his
chaplain, Patrick Galloway, preached a sermon whereby he
tried to convince the hearers that the Earl and his
brother had conspired to kill the King. James, himself,
rose and spoke against the brothers and later caused a
narrative of the affair to be published. Despite these
efforts the public and ministers did not believe James.
The public remembered the earlier execution of the Earl`s
father and they recalled also that the Gowries were
staunch Protestants and friends of Elizabeth I. But they
were also the undoubted enemies of the popish lords who
surrounded the young King at that time.

 James remained angry at the
comments of disbelief and he summoned ministers before him
who were generally cowed into accepting the official
version of events. One who did not acquiesce was Robert
Bruce who was brought before the King but declined “to
stain the glory of his ministry” by being a hypocrite and
acknowledging the guilt of Gowrie. For his stand Bruce was
banned from preaching and banished to France. McCrie in
cites the Life of Melville and this
exchange between the king and Bruce :

 The King acknowledged to
Mr Bruce that he ordered Alexander Ruthven to be struck. “
I grant” said he, “ that I am art and part in Master
Alexander`s slaughter, but it was in my own defence “.
“Why brought ye not to justice ?” said Bruce: “ you should
have had God before your eyes.” “ I had neither God nor
the devil before my eyes, man!” said the king,
interrupting him, “ but my own defence.”

 The events do, however, tidy
up the revenge scenario as the Gowrie family had been
involved in the murder of David
had been involved in the death of Lord
Darnley; had been the harsh captors of Mary Queen of Scots
–  all were now extinguished.

It is ironic that James`
personal motto was “Beati Pacifici“ – Blessed are the