On 21 May 1650 the royalist hero James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, was publicly executed by hanging on a scaffold at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh, and his body dismembered. A remarkable account of expenses held by National Records of Scotland throws light on how, a decade later, Montrose’s remains were reassembled with pomp and ceremony, ready for his elaborate funeral. The revealing account is one a small group of papers in the miscellaneous series (National Records of Scotland, RH9/1/38).
The former Scottish covenanting commander was captured in 1650 by his enemies and condemned to death for his treachery to the covenanting cause and his military action against them during the 1640s. Rather than facing honourable execution by beheading, the Marquess was hanged like a common criminal. He went to his death defiantly, maintaining his adherence to the Covenant. He also went stylishly, dressed in a black suit, a scarlet coat with silver trimmings, and a beaver hat. In an exceptional move designed to inspire fear and awe in the populace, his head was placed on a spike on the Edinburgh Tolbooth next to the High Kirk (St Giles), his limbs distributed to other Scottish burghs, and his torso buried near the Burghmuir loch, at the east end of the modern Meadows. Continue reading “The Marquis of Montrose’s death and re-assembly”