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Legitimation of Alasdair Gald 1579

By Peter Lawrie), ©2017


This remarkable writ from the Redgorton Charter Chest has been made available by the courtesy of Mr. Maxtone

According to Lord Fraser (Parent and Child, 3rd ed., p. 37), children born bastards may acquire the status of legitimacy in two different modes :
First, by the subsequent 'marriage of their parents, and second, by letters of legitimation from the Crown.' The first method was introduced into Scotland by the Canon Law. It was, however, rejected by the law of England, with the result that a man regarded as legitimate by the ecclesiastical courts, which alone had to determine questions of status, was treated as illegitimate by the Civil Courts, and succession to real estate accordingly depended on whether a man had been born in wedlock. In Scotland a person legitimated per subsequens matrimonium was legitimate for all purposes, without prejudice possibly to the issue of another and earlier marriage of either parent.
Second : Prior to the Reformation, letters of legitimation were granted both by the Pope and by the King. A good specimen of the former will be found in Highland Papers, vol i p. 92, and of the latter in Crawford's Officers of State, p. 435.

By such letters the bastard was enabled to make a will and those who would have been his heirs if legitimate to succeed to him ab intestato despite the King's right as ultimus haeres. (Cr. Dallas Styles, p. 114, for a gift of Bastardy.)

The present writ is, however, not by the King but by a lord of Regality, and it is the only one of the kind which the editor has seen. It also seems to go pretty far. Where a lord of regality had in his infeftment a right to escheats of persons domiciled within the regality which would otherwise have fallen to the King, he might of course make over this right to any donatory. And if, as in the present case, this included rights over a bastard's estate, the lord might of course renounce these in favour of the bastard. Such a right apparently extended to all moveables wherever these might happen to be. But the effect of the present writ is not limited to moveables, but in terms applies also to 'officis landis possessionis' and 'annual rentis and digniteis quhatsumeuir,' thus including even heritable property outwith the regality altogether.

Colene Eril of Ergile Lord Campbell and Lorne Justice Generall of Scotland hauand regalite within the shrefdome of Ergile To all and sindre quhom it efferis greting

Forsamekle as We for sindre gude caussis moving Ws hes in our Souerane Lordis name and ouris gevin and grantit and be the tenour of thir presentis gevis and grantis to our louit Allexander gald Makvekgregour bastard son to vmquhile Allexander Mcgregour of Glensra full power fre facultie and speciall licence That he in all the tyme of his liftyme othir beand seik, or haill, or in the tyme of his decess may frelie and lesumlie dispone vpon all and sindre his guddis and geir movable and immovable conquest or to be conquest to quhatsumeuer persoun or personis that he sail think maist expedient convenient and ganend.

Nochtwithstanding his bastardre that he is begottin in and the priuilege of law grantit to ws throw our regalite vpon the eschetis of bastardis And We be thir presentis legitimatis and makis lauchfull the said Alexander gald to bruke siklike priuilegis fredomes guddis and geir offices landis possessionis annuall rentis and digniteis quhat sumeuir as he war gottin of lauchfull bed And gif it hapnis the said Alexander to decess but lauchfull airis gottin of his body or dispositioun maid be him of all and sindre his guddis and geir landis and officis foirsaidis We throw our regalite willis and grantis and for ws our airis and successouris decernis and ordanis that his neirest agnate or cognate of his fader syde or moder syde salbe his air and succeid to him in all and sindre his guddis and geir movabill and immovabile landis possessionis and officis had and to be had siklike and als lesumlie be vertew of this our legitimatioun as the said Alexander had bene gottin of lauchfull bed or had lauchfull airis gottin of his body, or had disponit his guddis and geir landis officis and possessionis foirsaidis in his liftyme, but ony obstakill reuocatioun impediment dame questioun or contradictioun of ws our airis or successouris to be maid to the said Alexander or to the persone or personis to quhom he hapnis to mak dispositioun of his guddis and geir foirsaid in his liftyme or ony part theroff or to his airis lauchfullie gottin of his body or fallzeing thairof to his neirest agnate or cognate of his fader syde or moder syde in ony tyme cuming

Nochtwithstanding the said priuilege of law grantit throw our regalite vpon the eschete of bastardis within our boundis of regalite or ony vthir lawis cannone ciuill or municipall consuetudis actis of parliament constitutionis or statutis maid in the contrar Renunciand the samyn for ws and our successouris perpetualie Straitlie comandand that na maner of persone presume incontrar this our legitimatioun and letters of concessioun vndir all hiest pane and charge that eftir may follow

In Witnes quhairoff to thir our speciall letters of legitimatioun subscriuit with our hand our signet is appensit At Innerara the sevinten day of the moneth of Junij in the zeir of god im vc and thre scoir nyntene zeris (1579) befoir thir witnes
Johne Campbell of Calder
Johne bischope of the Ilis
Dougall Campbell of Auchnobrek
and James Campble of Ardkinglas.
Tag; seal gone.
In dorso: Legitimatioun of bastardre for Allexander gald Makvekgregor fra the Eril of Ergile.

[1] From McPhail, Highland Papers, vol IV, 1934 P216 to P218