Back to top

The Testament of the Nobill and Vailyeand Squyer Williame Meldrum of the Bynnis

Sir David Lyndsay, Testament of Squyer Meldrum: FOOTNOTES

1 Give my possessions to my next of kin

2 Ensure that nothing except that which is respectable be seen

3 With him a band of those of Mars’ religion

4 Who have been most diligent in her works

5 Solemnly have them sing my soul’s mass

6 Lines 183–84: Have a thousand hakbuts [portable guns] shoot all at once, / With Swiss tabors [i.e., a type of drum] and trumpets awe-inspiringly

Sir David Lyndsay, Testament of Squyer Meldrum: EXPLANATORY NOTES

ABBREVIATIONS: Acts of Council (Public Affairs): Acts of the Lords of Council in Public Affairs; AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; C: Edinburgh: Henrie Charteris, 1594 (STC [2nd ed.] 15679); Cal. State Papers (Venice): Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts relating to English Affairs; DOST: Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue; EETS: Early English Text Society; ER: The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland; Hadley Williams: Lyndsay, Sir David Lyndsay: Selected Poems, ed. Hadley Williams; Hamer: Lyndsay, The Works of Sir David Lindsay, ed. Hamer; Kinsley: Squyer Meldrum, ed. Kinsley; L: Edinburgh: Richard Lawson, 1610 (STC [2nd ed.] 15680); LP Henry VIII: Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII; MdnE: Modern English; ME: Middle English; MED: Middle English Dictionary; NIMEV: New Index of Middle English Verse; NLS: Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland; NRS: National Records of Scotland; OE: Old English; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; OF: Old French; Poems: Dunbar, Poems of William Dunbar, ed. Bawcutt; Reg. Mag. Sig.: Registrum Magni Sigilii Regum Scotorum (Register of the Great Seal of Scotland); Reg. Sec. Sig.: Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum (Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland); STC: A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland and English Books Printed Abroad 1473–1640, ed. Pollard and Redgrave; STS: Scottish Text Society; TA: Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, ed. Dickson and Paul; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Benson; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences and Proverbial Sayings from English Writings Before 1500; Wing: Wing, Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland, Wales and British America and of English Books Printed in Other Countries 1641–1700.

1–4 holie man Job . . . . bene wounder short. Although the Biblical Job is famous for his suffering and patience, the more specific allusion here may be to the Office of the Dead. Fein observes that “the Matins of the Office of the Dead, also called the Nine Lessons of the Dirge, was a long-established sequence of verses drawn from Job’s speeches to God” (Introduction to Pety Job, ed. Fein, p. 289). See also the note to lines 246–53 below. Job’s question to God — Quid est homo, quia magnificas eum? (“What is a man that thou shouldst magnify him?” Job 7:17) — could be seen to underlie Lyndsay’s Meldrum poems as a whole.

5 My youth is gane, and eild now dois resort. So C. L: My by past time was spent in weir & sport. It is unusual for L to differ substantively from C like this. Given how much more in keeping C’s line is with the sentiments represented by the book of Job as cited in line 1, L’s line would seem to be the result of faulty transmission.

22 David Erll of Craufuird. Hamer identifies this person as David Lindsay, ninth earl of Crawford, who died in 1558.

23 Johne Lord Lindesay. John, fifth Lord Lindsay of the Byres, was the grandson and heir of Patrick, fourth Lord Lindsay, the “agit lord” who had originally hired Meldrum and died in 1526 (see note to line 1519 of the Historie). Meldrum seems to have remained at Struthers (see the Historie, note to line 1589) with John for the rest of his life. John died in 1563 (see Hamer 3:229–30).

25 feistis funerall. Compare to Lyndsay’s Testament of the Papyngo in which the “papyngo” (parrot) laments that the nightingale, jay, blackbird or turtledove “My obsequees and feistis funerall / Ordour thay wald” (lines 726–27), if only they were present. The term recurs at lines 45, 196.

26–27 Sir Walter Lindesay . . . . knicht of Torfichane. Sir Walter Lindsay was preceptor of Torphichen priory, the Scottish headquarters of the order of the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, or the “Hospitallers.” He thus used the title “Lord of St Johne” and would have traveled abroad frequently (“ane nobill travellit knicht,” line 24). On 30 April 1544, both he and Lyndsay — in his role as Lyon King of Arms — were commissioned on behalf of the infant Mary, Queen of Scots, to return James V’s insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece to the emperor Charles V, although it does not look as if Lyndsay actually went; further letters cite only Sir Walter as the bearer (LP Henry VIII, 19.272–73, nos. 434, 435, 436). See also the “protectioun, saufgard and respitt” issued to Walter, his tenants, and his servants while he was “furth of the realme,” registered at Edinburgh on 24 April 1544 (Reg. Sec. Sig. 3:108, no. 716).

Walter was certainly dead by March 1547, when the grand master of the order at Malta conferred on James Sandilands the preceptory of Torphichen, “vacant by death of brother Walter Lindsay” (Knights of St John, ed. Cowan et al.,p. 184, no. 101 [dated Malta, 29 March 1547; Cod. 421, fol. 162r–v]). Cowan, Mackay, and Macquarrie also provide a transcription of a notarial instrument dated at Edinburgh, 23 June 1547 which refers to the “quondam [i.e., deceased] nobilis domini Walteri domini sancti Johannis militis preceptoris de torphichen” (Knights of St John, ed. Cowan et al., pp. 133–36, quoted at p. 134 [NRS RH 6/1408]). See the Squyer Meldrum Introduction for the complications this introduces to the dating of the Meldrum poems.

41 gold more than of glas. The collocation of gold and glass has a proverbial ring to it; compare Dunbar, The Tretis of the twa mariit wemen and the wedo: “He had the glemyng of gold and wes bot glase fundin” (Poems, 1:46, line 202). Meldrum’s claim to care nothing for money is tacitly contrasted with the tremendous expense of the funeral he demands for himself.

50–56 First . . . . and spycis precious. Embalming was necessary to preserve the body of one whose funeral would require lengthy planning, or whose body was to be transported a long way to its resting place, e.g., that of a noble who had been on pilgrimage (Gittings, Death, Burial and the Individual, p. 166). Meldrum later notes that his body will not decay in its tomb thanks to the embalming (lines 178–80). Compare the embalming of Bruce’s body in Barbour’s Bruce: “And he debowailyt wes clenly, / And bawmyt syne richly” (ed. McDiarmid and Stevenson, 20.295–96); or that of Alexander in the mid-fifteenth century Buik of King Alexander the Conquerour associated with Gilbert Hay:
They vncled him of all his vestamentis,
And him anoyntit with precious oyntmentis,
Syne bowelleit him and spyiceit him in þe cors
(ed. Cartwright, 3.18, 532–34)
In Lyndsay’s own time, separate burial of entrails took place for both Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France, both in 1547, and probably for James V of Scotland in 1543 (Thomas, Princelie Majestie, p. 215; Gittings, Death, Burial and the Individual, p. 216; and Giesey, The Royal Funeral Ceremony, p. 2).

54 ceder treis . . . syper fyne. Cedar and cypress are both scented, decay-resistant woods; both would almost certainly have to be imported to Scotland in the sixteenth century. Hadley Williams notes that the cypress “often was associated with death and mourning” (compare Douglas, Eneados, ed. Coldwell, 2:112, lines 120–22).

57–85 In twa caissis . . . . ye sall present. Separate burial of the heart, enclosed in a casket, is recorded for the Scottish kings Alexander III, Robert Bruce, James I, and perhaps Alexander II. See Dean, “Crowns, Wedding Rings, and Processions,” pp. 39–42. The further adventures of Robert Bruce’s heart (apparently taken on crusade by his loyal follower William Douglas) are narrated by Barbour in The Bruce (ed. McDiarmid and Stevenson, 20.182–253, 313–497, 603–11) as well as by Richard Holland (with some variations) in the Buke of the Howlat, ed. Hanna, pp. 70–73, lines 436–546. Brown discusses the medieval tradition amongst royal families of separate burials for body, heart, and/or entrails (“Death and the Human Body,” pp. 228–33 and 258–65). This is the practice Meldrum has in mind when he wishes his bones to be interred in the temple of Mars, his tongue in that of Mercury, and his heart in that of Venus.

64 Mars, Venus and Mercurius. Allusions to the influence of the planetary gods were common in formal poetry of the Middle Ages, although Meldrum’s instructions for the burial of various organs in pagan temples turn his otherwise plausible — if inappropriately grand — funeral arrangements into an amusing fantasy. As Kinsley notes, Meldrum’s choice for himself of Mars, Venus, and Mercury may be modeled on encomia such as Dunbar’s “[B]allade of . . . Barnard Stewart, lord of Aubigny,” in which he describes Stewart as being favored by Mars, Saturn, Venus, Mercury, and Fortuna major (Poems, 1:179, lines 73–80).

71–75 Quho list to knaw . . . . sword and knife. Ariès, describing French noble practice, remarks: “In the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it very often happens that the epitaph is a true biographical account intended to glorify the deceased, something like the notice in a dictionary of celebrities, with special emphasis placed on military citations . . . very often devoted to the brilliant feats and outstanding services of men of war . . . The inscriptions that cover the floors and walls of churches and cemeteries are like the pages of a dictionary of famous people, a kind of Who’s Who laid open for the perusal of passersby” (The Hour of Our Death, p. 223). Slightly closer to home, the lavish funeral in 1524 of the English victor at the battle of Flodden, Thomas Howard, second Duke of Norfolk (the Earl of Surrey as was), included a recitation of his noble deeds by the Carlisle herald (Gittings, Death, Burial and the Individual, p. 37). Francis Blomefield records an inscription of over 3,000 words detailing the triumphs of Howard’s career attached to his monument (An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, 2:119–25). In Meldrum’s case, we suddenly realize that this legend is the Historie we have just read. He refers to his legend again at lines 167 and 233.

79 Mercurius. Lyndsay elsewhere describes Mercury as he whom “poetis callis god of eloquence” (Dreme, line 394). Meldrum’s description of advancing his honor through “his ornate toung” could simply mean that he spoke well — this is the straightforward significance of Dunbar’s praise for Barnard Stewart: “On the Marcurius furtheyet his eloquence” (Poems, 1:179, line 78). On the other hand, we were also told that many of the details in the Historie were supplied to Lyndsay by Meldrum himself (Historie, lines 33–34), so the trustworthiness of his “tongue” becomes an issue. An ambivalent attitude to the “toung rhetoricall” is apparent in Lyndsay’s Testament of the Papyngo, in which the chagrined dying parrot bequeaths her “Eloquence and toung rethoricall” (line 78) to the goose (lines 1104–05).

In addition to eloquence, Mercury was also the god of commerce, cheats, and thieves, some additional associations which Walter Kennedy may have had in mind when he referred to Dunbar as a “monstir maid be god Mercurius” in their famous Flyting (Poems, 1:216, line 490). In Gower’s widely-circulated Confessio Amantis, one born under the sign of Mercury is described as:
. . . slouh and lustles to travaile                                                                       sluggish
In thing which elles myhte availe:                                         prosper (be sufficient)
He loveth ese, he loveth reste,
So is he noght the worthieste;
Bot yit with somdiel besinesse                                                    diligence (industry)
His herte is set upon richesse.
(ed. Peck, 7.761–66)
In his note to these lines, Peck discusses the medieval antecedents for this association of Mercury’s children with commence, theft, and the eager pursuit of riches. In Meldrum’s case, they might make readers suspicious of his repeated claims to care nothing for riches. See lines 37–39, 41–42, less directly lines 222–24, and the Historie, lines 1551–56.

93 my processioun. Chivalric funerals such as the one Meldrum describes here would have been organized by a herald. As Scotland’s chief herald, Lyon King of Arms, Lyndsay was eminently well qualified for the job; he would also direct the funeral of James V (whether or not this had already taken place depends on the date assigned to this poem; see the Squyer Meldrum Introduction). Pre-Reformation English heraldic funerals that are similar to what Meldrum outlines here (though generally less lavish) are described by Houlbrooke, Death, Religion, and the Family in England, pp. 258–64.

95 my penseil. This is a small pennon (a streamer-shaped flag). The seventeenth-century guidelines drawn up by Lord Lyon Sir James Balfour of Denmiln state that “Ane Esquyre is to have A pennon of his Armes, A Coate of Armes, Healme and crest,” as indeed Meldrum does here (NLS MS Gen. Cat. 57, 32.2.14, quoted from Burnett, “Funeral Heraldry,” p. 474).

98 ane thowsand hagbutteris. This figure might be compared to the mere 80 hagbutters (soldiers armed with an early precursor to the rifle) that Pitscottie says the Seigneur de la Bastie had at his command in 1517 when he was acting regent of Scotland (Historie and Cronicles, ed. Mackay, 1:299, line 2), or the 279 “hagbusshes” listed in the 1547 inventory of the garrison at Calais (Grummit, Calais Garrison, p. 123).

104 standart. The standard was a long narrow flag with split ends. In later Scottish codifications, standards were only permitted to those of baronial rank or above, though it is not clear how strictly such things were regulated in Meldrum’s Scotland. See Innes, Scots Heraldry, pp. 43–44.

106 baner. The banner was either a square or an upright rectangular flag displaying arms. Innes asserts that “in actual mediaeval warfare none below knights-banneret and (feudal) barons displayed the square banner,” but that other nobles and lairds might use the upright rectangular banner (Innes, Scots Heraldry, p. 42).

107 Of silver schene, thrie otteris into sabill. The syntax of this description of Meldrum’s banner is ambiguous. The punctuation adopted here assumes that a banner of bright (“schene”) silver with three otters in black (“sabill”) is to be borne amongst the band of noble men. This lists the elements of his banner in the usual order for heraldic description, i.e., color of field (“silver”), followed by the charges (“otteris”) and their color (sable, or black). An alternative reading suggested by Hadley Williams is that this is a specific funeral hatchment in which the charges — now silver otters — are shown on a black background, for which practice she cites Burnett, “Funeral Heraldry,” pp. 490, 492 and illustrations on pp. 496–553. It is certainly true that Lyndsay does not stick to the formal heraldic ordering of elements when describing Meldrum’s arms elsewhere in the Historie (compare “Ane otter in ane silver feild,” lines 384 and 548). On the other hand, Burnett also observes that “there is not enough remaining evidence to show if this code was used on pre-Union hatchments but it was used consistently on Scottish hatchments after 1707” (“Funeral Heraldry,” p. 490), so the question remains as to whether such funeral hatchments were in use as early as c. 1550. On Meldrum’s arms, see note to line 384 of the Historie.

110–19 Nixt efter them . . . . my coit armour. Apart from the inflated numbers of followers, Meldrum’s instructions for the items and ordering of this part of his funeral are very similar to the instructions for directing a heraldic funeral as copied by John Scrymgeour of Myres in a manuscript of the first half of the sixteenth century: “Item þe secund offerand sould be þe heallme” (this is equivalent to Meldrum’s basnet); “Item þe thrid offerand should be þe swerd”; “Item þe ferd offerand of a horss coverit with þe armes of þe deid And a gentillman salbe vpon him or a freind of þe deid quhilk sall beir his baner or be þe bachileir his pennon And he salbe cumpanit with tua noble men þe maist vailliant and þe maist of renown to be capitanes”; “Item þe fyft offrand salbe siclyck of ane horss coverit with his loveray [i.e., livery] and a man aboue” (NLS, Advocates MS 31.5.2, transcribed in Dean, “Crowns, Wedding Rings, and Processions,” Appendix A, pp. 338–39).

113 arming sword. This is the standard short sword as used in knightly combat or worn with military harness. See Oakeshott, European Weapons and Armour, pp. 125–26.

117 jonet . . . cursour. The jennet was a small Spanish horse; the courser a more powerful horse appropriate for carrying armed knights (see DOST jonet (n.2) and MED courser (n.)).

120–26 my corspresent . . . . at my interrement. The “corspresent” was a payment or gift to the clergy, and for heraldic funerals it might be a horse and armor as Meldrum plans to offer here. That this was a traditional (if expensive) gift is suggested by the fact that Hugh Earl of Stafford, in his will of 1385, specifically forbade his executors to arrange for it: “I desire that no horse or arms be offered at my funeral, and that no prayers be said thereat excepting by ecclesiastical persons, my allies, and friends” (Nicolas, Testamenta Vetusta, 1:118).

125–26 Quhilk sal . . . . at my interrement. C accidentally inserts a space between these two lines, rather than at the end of the stanza after line 126.

128 With huidis heklit doun ovirthort thair ene. DOST defines heklit (adj. and ppl.) as “having a border or a fringe like a cock’s hackle” (i.e., a cockerel’s neck-feathers). Whatever the style intended, Meldrum means that the hoods hang low enough to almost cover their eyes.

151–61 ye thoill na preist . . . . melodie and game. Meldrum’s refusal to admit clergy to his funeral procession other than those of “Venus professioun” and “Venus chapel clarks” (i.e., lovers and those who assist them) and his insistence on “melodie and game” recall the conclusion of Dunbar’s satirical testament “I maister Andro Kennedy,” in which the drunkard Andro insists:
I will na preistis for me sing
Dies illa, dies ire [that day, that day of wrath]
Na ȝit na bellis for me ring, Sicut semper solet fieri, [As always is the custom]
Bot a bag pipe to play a spryng [dance-tune]
Et vnum ail wosp ante me . . .
[i.e., the bundle of straw marking an ale-house]
(Poems, 1:92, lines 105–110; Latin trans. 2:332)
Meldrum likewise refuses to have the passing-bell rung for him, demanding instead that cannons and 1,000 hagbuts be fired for him as well as trumpets blown (lines 181–86).

154 Quhilk hes bene most exercit in hir warkis. C omits the stanza-break after this line, probably because it is the penultimate line on his page.

181–82 Let not be rung . . . . crak for bellis. See note to lines 151–61 above.

195 temperall. As Hadley Williams has shown, this is not “worldly goods” but a specific term for “coat-armor,” the rich vest embroidered with heraldic devices as worn by heralds, or by knights over top of their armor. See A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues which has “Temporalles. Coat-armors; or Heraulds coats” (ed. Cotgrave).

199–203 Abone my grave . . . . wes his name. A survey of the wills in Nicolas, Testamenta Vetusta, reveals that many of the testators specify marble tombstones, sometimes with an image of the deceased in brass or carved into the stone. The frequency with which the wording of an inscription is specified increases over the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but it generally remains a combination of the pious and the soberly biographical. One might compare the boastful epitaph desired by Meldrum to that on James V’s tomb:

[Illustrious James, King of the Scots, fifth of that name, aged 31, having reigned for thirty years, died in the palace of Falkland on 14 December, in the year of our Lord 1542, [and his] body was buried here.]
(translation mine)
This inscription was copied into NLS Advocates MS 33.3.26 (Sibbaldi Caledonia) from the coffin plate in “‘a vault in the south-east corner of ye Abby Church of Halyroodhouse, on the 24th of January 1683’” (Dunbar, Scottish Kings: A Revised Chronology, p. 240).

204 Adew. Meldrum’s repeated “adew[s]” to those he believes will be inconsolable upon his death (lines 201, 202, 209, 218, 226, 238, 239, 242) recall the anaphoral outpouring of grief by Alexander’s followers in Gilbert Hay’s Buik of King Alexander the Conquerour, more evidence of Meldrum’s comically high opinion of his own importance:
Adew, fairveill, our confort and blyithnes,
Adew,” thay said, “our lyife, adew our dead,
Adew, our wit, our counsall, and our read,
Adew, fair-veill, our haill and our seiknes,
Adew, our warldis ioy and our solace,
Adew, fair-weill . . .
(ed. Cartwright, 3:237, lines 18597–603; there are a further six “Adew[s]”)
205–09 My Lord Lindesay . . . . your sisteris al. On “My Lord Lindesay,” i.e., John, fifth Lord Lindsay of the Byres, see note to line 23 above. His “lady” was Helen Stuart, daughter of the earl of Atholl. Their eldest son and the future sixth Lord Lindsay is the “Maister Patrik” named here; their third son is “Normand” (the second son John had died decades earlier). Patrick and Norman are both cited in a precept of sasine granting lands at Drem, Haddington, to Norman: it was dated at Ochterotherstruther (i.e., Struthers), 30 May 1550, and one of the witnesses was “William Meldrum of Bynnis” (Fraser, Memorials of the Earls of Haddington, 2:261, no. 363). The “sisteris al” of Patrick and Norman are the seven daughters of John and Helen who survived into adulthood, meticulously named by Hamer (3:229–30) as Isabel, Janet, Margaret, Marie, Helen, Catherine, and Elizabeth.

207 the Struther. Struthers Castle, the Fife seat of the Lords Lindsay. See note to line 1589 of the Historie.

211–14 But maist of all . . . . the murning weid. See the Historie, lines 685–91, on the eagerness of one nameless French lady to marry Meldrum and the general distress of the ladies of France upon his departure.

215–17 Quhen thir novellis . . . . drerie cheir. On Meldrum in England, see note to the Historie, line 88.

218–24 Of Craigfergus . . . . youth and insolence. The rescue of the maiden at Carrickfergus is the very first adventure narrated in the Historie (lines 104–72). She offers to stow away with the Scottish fleet as his paramour when he will not take her as his wife (lines 202–06). His remark about refusing her “throw youth and insolence” does not so much recall the Carrickfergus episode (in which he just seemed eager to escape the maiden’s advances) as his refusal of a nameless French lady “of greit rent” [income] because “youth maid him sa insolent” (lines 686–88).

225 lemant lampis of lustines. Dunbar calls Margaret Tudor “Lodsteir and lamp of euery lustines” (Poems, 1:81, line 10), while the eponymous hero of the sixteenth-century Scots romance Clariodus addresses his beloved Meliades very similarly as “Lodstar of love, and lampe of lustieheid” (ed. Irving, 2.365), possibly in imitation of Dunbar’s diction. On “lodstar,” see note to line 230 below.

229–38 Ten thousand times . . . . adew for ever. This is the great love affair of his life, and its story takes up lines 863–1478 of the Historie. Marjorie Lawson, Lady of Gleneagles and the real person behind this story, is never named by Lyndsay in either poem; see the Introduction, “The Historie and History.”

230 Sterne of Stratherne. Chaucer’s Troilus twice calls Criseyde his “lodesterre,” i.e., guiding star (TC 5.232, 1392), and Meliades in the sixteenth-century Scots romance of Clariodus is several times called “lodstar” (ed. Irving, 2.365 and 1317, 3.584, 4.1202). See Wingfield, Trojan Legend (pp. 82–87) on Clariodus’ debt to Troilus and Criseyde; both texts may have influenced Lyndsay’s diction here.

245 crysme. Chrism is the mixture of oil and balm used in the administration of certain sacraments of the Church, such as the Last Rites.

246–53 My spreit hartlie . . . . thow wes borne. This final stanza abandons rhyme royal for a single eight-line stanza of four-stress lines rhyming ababbcbc, the same stanza employed by the influential satiric lais and Testament of the fifteenth-century French poet François Villon (see Squyer Meldrum Introduction) although it is not uncommon elsewhere. It begins by alternating Latin and English lines, but by the second half of the stanza, the two Latin lines actually begin in Scots. This change in stanza form is reminiscent of Dunbar’s “I, Maister Andro Kennedy,” in which he moves from an eight-line stanza of alternating Latin and English lines to a final stanza of twelve lines (see note to lines 151–61 above). C and L print the Latin lines in Roman typeface, to distinguish them from the blackletter used for the Scots.

The first two Latin lines echo Psalm 30:6: In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum; redemisti me, Domine Deus veritatis [“Into thy hands I commend my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O lord, the God of truth”]. The association of this Psalm with the Office of the Dead is illustrated graphically in an earlier fifteenth-century manuscript, the “Grandes Heures de Rohan” (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS Lat. 9471, fol. 159), which may have been commissioned by the dauphin Charles, Duke of Berry. (It might be noted in passing that Charles’ daughter-in-law was Margaret Stewart, daughter of James I of Scotland — a keen reader and writer herself, and the subject of the Complaint for the Death of Margaret edited elsewhere in this volume). The miniature on the opening page of the Office of the Dead depicts a naked corpse quoting Psalm 30:6, and Christ replying (in French) that the dead man will do penance for his sins, but will be reunited with him on Judgment Day. See Kinch, Imago Mortis, pp. 21–22. See the Testament’s earlier allusion to the Office of the Dead through references to Job at lines 1–4 above and note.




















































Compylit be Sir David Lyndesay of the Mont etc.

The holie man Job, ground of pacience,
In his greit trubill trewlie did report
Quhilk I persave now be experience:
That mennis lyfe in eirth bene wounder short.
My youth is gane, and eild now dois resort;
My time is gane; I think it bot ane dreame,
Yit efter deith remane sall my gude fame.

I persave shortlie that I man pay my det:
To me in eirth no place bene permanent.
My hart on it no mair now will I set,
Bot with the help of God omnipotent,
With resolute mind go mak my testament,
And tak my leif at cuntriemen, and kyn,
And all the warld: and thus I will begyn.

                Thrie lordis to me sal be executouris,
Lindesayis all thrie, in surname of renoun.
Of my testament thay sall have hail the cure,
To put my mind till executioun.
That surname failyeit never to the croun:
Na mair will thay to me, I am richt sure,
Quhilk is the caus that I give them the cure.

First, David Erll of Craufuird, wise and wicht,
And Johne Lord Lindesay, my maister speciall.
The thrid sal be ane nobill travellit knicht,
Quhilk knawis the coistis of feistis funeral;
The wise Sir Walter Lindesay they him cal,
Lord of St Johne, and knicht of Torfichane,
Be sey and land ane vailyeand capitane.

Thocht age hes maid my bodie impotent,
Yit in my hart hie courage doeth precell,
Quhairfoir I leif to God with gude intent
My spreit, the quhilk he hes maid immortall,
Intill his court perpetuallie to dwell,
And nevir moir to steir furth of the steid,
Till Christ discend and judge baith quick and deid.

I yow beseik, my lordis executouris,
My geir geve till the nixt of my kynrent. 1
It is weill kend, I never tuik na cures
Of conquessing of riches nor of rent:
Dispone as ye think maist expedient.
I never tuik cure of gold more than of glas —
Without honour, fy fy upon riches!

I yow requeist, my freindis ane and all,
And nobill men of quhome I am descendit,
Faill not to be at my feist funerall,
Quhilk throw the warld I traist sal be commendit.
Ye knaw how that my fame I have defendit
During my life unto this latter hour,
Quhilk suld to yow be infinit plesour.

First, of my bowellis clenge my bodie clene,
Within and out, syne wesche it weill with wyne,
Bot honestie see that nothing be sene; 2
Syne clois it in ane coistlie carvit schryne
Of ceder treis, or of cyper fyne.
Anoynt my corps with balme delicious,
With cynamome and spycis precious.

In twa caissis of gold and precious stanis
Inclois my hart and toung richt craftelie;
My sepulture, syne, gar mak for my banis
Into the tempill of Mars triumphandlie,
Of marbill stanis carvit richt curiouslie,
Quhairin my kist and banis ye sall clois
In that triumphand tempill to repois.

Mars, Venus and Mercurius, all thre
Gave me my natural inclinatiounis,
Quhilk rang the day of my nativitie,
And sa thair hevinlie constellatiounis
Did me support in monie natiounis.
Mars maid me hardie like an feirs lyoun,
Quhairthrow I conqueist honour and renoun.

Quho list to knaw the actis bellical,
Let thame go reid the legend of my life.
Thair sall thai find the deidis martiall,
How I have stand in monie stalwart strife
Victoriouslie, with speir, sheild, sword and knife:
Quhairfoir to Mars, the god armipotent,
My corps incloisit ye do till him present.

Mak offering of my toung rhetoricall
Till Mercurius, quhilk gaif me eloquence,
In his tempill to hing perpetuall:
I can mak him na better recompence,
For quhen I was brocht to the presence
Of kings in Scotland, Ingland and in France,
My ornate toung my honour did avance.

To fresche Venus my hart ye sall present,
Quhilk hes to me bene ay comfortabill,
And in my face sic grace scho did imprent,
All creatures did think me amiabill.
Wemen to me scho maid sa favorabill,
Wes never ladie that luikit in my face,
Bot honestlie I did obtene her grace.

My freind Sir David Lyndsay of the Mont
Sall put in ordour my processioun.
I will that thair pas formest in the front
To beir my penseil ane wicht campioun;
With him ane band of Mars his religioun — 3
That is to say, in steid of monkis and freiris —
In gude ordour ane thowsand hagbutteris.

Nixt them, ane thowsand futemen in ane rout
With speir and sheild, with buckler, bow and brand,
In ane luferay, young stalwart men and stout.
Thridlie in ordour thair sall cum ane band
Of nobill men, abill to wraik thair harmes,
Thair capitane with my standart in his hand,
On bairdit hors ane hundreth men of armes.
Amang that band my baner sal be borne
Of silver schene, thrie otteris into sabill,
With tabroun, trumpet, clarioun and horne,
For men of armes verie convenabill.
Nixt efter them, ane campioun honorabill
Sall beir my basnet with my funerall;
Syne efter him, in ordour triumphall,

My arming sword, my gluifis of plait and sheild,
Borne be ane forcie campioun or ane knicht,
Quhilk did me serve in monie dangerous feild.
Nixt efter him, ane man in armour bricht
Upon ane jonet or ane cursour wicht,
The quhilk sal be ane man of greit honour,
Upon ane speir to beir my coit armour.

Syne nixt my beir sall cum my corspresent —
My bairdit hors, my harnes, and my speir —
With sum greit man of my awin kynrent,
As I wes wont on my bodie to beir
During my time quhen I went to the weir,
Quhilk sal be offerit with ane gay garment
To Mars his preist at my interrement.

Duill weidis I think hypocrisie and scorne,
With huidis heklit doun ovirthort thair ene:
With men of armes my bodie sal be borne.
Into that band see that no blak be sene:
My luferay sal be reid, blew, and grene;
The reid for Mars, the grene for freshe Venus,
The blew for lufe of god Mercurius.

About my beir sall ryde ane multitude
All of ane luferay of my cullouris thrie —
Erles and lordis, knichtis and men of gude,
Ilk barroun beirand in his hand on hie
Ane lawrer branche in signe of victorie,
Because I fled never out of the feild,
Nor yit as presoner unto my fois me yeild.

Agane that day faill not to warne and call
All men of musick and of menstrallie,
About my beir with mirthis musicall,
To dance and sing with hevinlie harmonie,
Quhais plesant sound redound sall in the sky.
My spreit I wait sal be with mirth and joy:
Quhairfoir with mirth my corps ye sal convoy.

This beand done and all thing reulit richt,
Than plesantlie mak your progressioun,
Quhilk I beleif sal be ane plesant sicht.
Se that ye thoill na preist in my processioun
Without he be of Venus professioun,
Quhairfoir gar warne al Venus chapel clarks
Quhilk hes bene most exercit in hir warkis. 4

With ane bischop of that religioun,
Solemnitlie gar thame sing my saull mes; 5
With organe, timpane, trumpet and clarion
To shaw thair musick, dewlie them addres.
I will that day be hard no hevines:
I will na service of the requiem
Bot “Alleluya,” with melodie and game.

Efter the evangell and the offertour,
Throw all the tempill gar proclame silence:
Than to the pulpet gar ane oratour
Pas up, and schaw in oppin audience,
Solempnitlie, with ornate eloquence,
At greit laser the legend of my life,
How I have stand in monie stalwart strife.

Quhen he hes red my buik fra end till end,
And of my life maid trew narratioun,
All creature, I wait, will me commend,
And pray to God for my salvatioun.
Than efter this solempnizatioun
Of service, and all brocht to end,
With gravitie than with my bodie wend,

And clois it up into my sepulture,
Thair to repois till the greit judgement,
The quhilk may not corrupt, I yow assure,
Be vertew of the precious oyntment
Of balme, and uther spyces redolent.
Let not be rung for me that day saull knellis,
Bot greit cannounis gar them crak for bellis.

Ane thousand hakbuttis gar schute al at anis,
With swesche talburnis and trumpettis awfullie: 6
Lat never spair the poulder, nor the stanis,
Quhais thundring sound redound sall in the sky,
That Mars may heir quhair he triumphandlie
Abone Phebus is situate full evin,
Maist awfull god under the sternie hevin.

And syne hing up above my sepulture
My bricht harnes, my scheild and als my speir,
Togidder with my courtlie coit armour,
Quhilk I wes wont upon my bodie beir
In France, in Ingland being at the weir;
My baner, basnet, with my temperall,
As bene the use of feistis funerall.

This beand done, I pray yow tak the pane
My epitaphe to writ upon this wyis,
Abone my grave in goldin letteris fyne:
“The maist invincibill weiriour heir lyis,
During his time quhilk wan sic laud and pryis
That throw the hevinis sprang his nobil fame:
Victorious William Meldrum wes his name.”

Adew my lordis, I may na langer tarie.
My Lord Lindesay, adew abone all uther:
I pray to God and to the Virgine Marie,
With your lady to leif lang in the Struther;
Maister Patrik with young Normand, your brother;
With my ladies, your sisteris al, adew —
My departing I wait weill ye will rew.

Bot maist of all, the fair ladies of France,
Quhen thai heir tell but dout that I am deid,
Extreme dolour wil change thair countenance,
And for my saik will weir the murning weid.
Quhen thir novellis dois into Ingland spreide,
Of Londoun than the lustie ladies cleir
Will for my saik mak dule and drerie cheir.

Of Craigfergus, my dayis darling, adew —
In all Ireland of feminine the flour.
In your querrell twa men of weir I slew
Quhilk purposit to do yow dishonour.
Ye suld have bene my spous and paramour,
With rent and riches for my recompence,
Quhilk I refusit throw youth and insolence.

Fairweill ye lemant lampis of lustines
Of fair Scotland, adew my ladies all:
During my youth, with ardent besines
Ye knaw how I was in your service thrall.
Ten thowsand times adew, abone thame all,
Sterne of Stratherne, my ladie soverane
For quhom I sched my blud with mekill pane.

Yit wald my ladie luke at evin and morrow
On my legend at lenth, scho wald not mis
How for hir saik I sufferit mekill sorrow.
Yit give I micht at this time get my wis,
Of hir sweit mouth, deir God, I had ane kis:
I wis in vane. Allace, we will dissever.
I say na mair, sweit hart — adew for ever.

Brether in armes, adew in generall;
For me I wait your hartis bene full soir.
All trew companyeounis into speciall,
I say to yow adew for evermoir,
Till that we meit agane with God in gloir.
Sir Curat, now gif me incontinent
My crysme with the holie sacrament.

My spreit hartlie I recommend
In manus tuas, Domine.
My hoip to the is till ascend,
Rex, quia redemisti me,
Fra syn resurrexisti me,
Or ellis my saull had bene forlorne.
With sapience docuisti me,
Blist be the hour that thow wes borne.



That which
(see note)
settle in 
(see note)


must; debt

take my leave of

the whole responsibility
To execute my wishes


brave (strong); (see note)
(see note)
Who; funeral ceremonies; 
(see note)

(see note)
sea; valiant

great; is pre-eminent
For which reason
go forth from that place
living and dead

known; cared about
Acquiring; revenue
Deal with it
cared; glass; 
(see note)

request; friends

funeral ceremony

bowels cleanse
Inside and out

Then enclose; coffin
cedar; cypress; 
(see note)

(see note)

have made; bones
coffin; enclose

(see note)

Who were dominant
planetary influences

fierce lion

wishes; war-like acts

stood; valiant
(see note)
So; powerful in arms
enclosed body; to

(see note)
hang forever

(see note)



(see note)
[a small pennon]; brave champion; 
(see note)

(see note)

After; in a troop
In the same livery

avenge their wrongs
(see note)
caparisoned horses
(see note)
bright; in black; (see note)
tabor (drum)


(see note)

Spanish horse; 
(see note)

coat of arms; 
(see note)

caparisoned horse; armor
own family

(see note)(see note)

Mourning attire
(see note)


bier (coffin)

men of substance
carrying; high


In preparation for

soul; know
Thus; escort

being; conducted properly

do summon
(see note)

drum or tambourine


(see note)

Gospel; offertory

declaim publicly

stood; valiant

I know



(see note)

(gun)powder; missiles
Whose; shall echo

Above; directly

coat of arms

(see note)
funeral ceremonies

being; trouble
in this way

praise and esteem

(see note)

(see note)

(see note)

(see note)

for certain

mourning attire; 
(see note)
these tidings
merry; beautiful
mourn and grieve; 
(see note)

income; my reward

(see note)

shining lamps of loveliness; 
(see note)

Star of Strathearn; 
(see note)
great suffering

Yet if; wish
I would have
wish; part
(see note)


in particular

Sir Priest; right away
(see note)

Into your hands, Lord
King, because you have redeemed me
From sin you have restored me

With wisdom you have taught me
(see note)


Go To Appendix: Lawson and Haldane Family Trees