Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Iron Box of Jewels #3

The documents transcribed in the last two blog-posts leave us these questions:
1. Where did the jewels come from?
2. Why were they in Orkney, when the main person connected with them came from Benholm in Kincardineshire?
3. Why were Cromwell's men involved in the inventory of the jewels?
4. Why were a group of men who were leaders and landowners of the county listing the contents of the box?
5. What happened to the jewels?

The Palaeography Group have clues and/or theories for each question.

1. Where did the jewels come from?
The jewels are linked to James Keith of Benholm. Benholm is a parish in Kincardineshire about 30 miles south of Aberdeen. The Keiths were the lairds of Benholm and they lived at Benholm Castle. According to The Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen, James Keith was involved (with his mother!) in a burglary of Benholm Castle in 1622.
BDES volume 3, p297


BDES volume 3, p298

















Could the jewels described here be some of the Jewels in the Iron box? Some of them sound very similar: "a rich jewel set with diamonds...a chain of ''equall perle'' wherein were 400 pearls great and small...a diamond set in a ring...other rich stones in gold". It also states that the case was eventually dropped by the courts but that James Keith was "outlawed for not appearing". The hoard worth £26,000 in 1622 would be worth £6,246,602 in today's money.

2. Why were the jewels in Orkney, when James Keith was from Kincardineshire?
In July 1643, in return for his help to Charles I, the 7th Earl of Morton received a grant of the Earldom of Orkney and Lordship of Zetland. James Keith turns up in Orkney records in November 1649, when the 8th Earl of Morton (Robert Douglas) grants him a commission to be co-factor for his estate alongside his brother John Douglas.

Transumpt off Commissione be the Earle of Mortown to the Laird off Benholme, Novr, 1649.
Why did the Earl of Morton pick James Keith? Well, after some internet searching and a bit of genealogy, we find that James Keith's sister Lady Anne Keith was mother to Robert Douglas, the 8th Earl of Morton.
You'll see also from this small family tree that James Keith of Benholm had a son called James Keith. We have not found out anything about this man yet. At the moment, we are not ruling him out as being the man who brings the Iron Box to Orkney, except that he is not termed as being "of Benholm".

3. Why were Cromwell's men involved in the inventory of the jewels?
These were turbulent times in Scotland and Orkney. Scotland was still an independent country in 1649 with a shared monarchy with England, Wales and Ireland. The king, Charles I, was beheaded in 1649 and Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland in 1650. Major defeats at Dunbar and Worcester resulted in Cromwell's troops taking over Scotland, even though the Scots had crowned Charles II as their king.

Orkney, siding with the Royalists and Charles II, had sent 1000 men to the Battle of Carbisdale in April 1650, where the Royalists were also defeated. The Earl of Morton fled Orkney and a garrison of Cromwell forces moved in in 1651. They built two forts on either side of Kirkwall Bay to defend the town, and were known to stable their horses in St Magnus Cathedral. Nothing remains today of either fort, except the name of the one on the east of the bay.

Cromwell's Fort, Kirkwall. The Ordnance Survey Name Book (ONB) notes from 1881 state that 'very little of the original of this fort remains -when Cromwell's soldiers penetrated as far north as Orkney, they threw up a rude temporary fort on the spur of the headland to the east of Kirkwall Harbour. It is now converted into a fort or battery for the use of the 1st Orkney Artillery Volunteers'.
In April 1654, the Council of State issued an Ordnance for uniting Scotland into one Commonwealth with England, which would be the "Commonwealth of England Scotland and Ireland", under the authority of the Instrument of Government that made Cromwell Lord Protector. This remained the legal basis of the union until the Ordinance became an Act of Union under the Second Protectorate Parliament on 26th June 1657.

4. Why were a group of men who were leaders and landowners of the county listing the contents of the box?

The group of men who witnessed the opening of the box were:
Charles was Charles Seton, Earl of Dunfermline who features on the family tree above as being married to the 8th Earl of Morton's sister Mary Douglas.
Major Henry Ronnall, was Cromwell's Governor of Orkney.
Captain Edmund Leister and Captain John Hobblethorne were probably captains of the garrison stationed in Orkney.
Patrick Blair, of Littleblair,  Sheriff of Orkney
William Stewart, elder of Maynes and James Stewart, younger of Maynes - we don't know much about these two yet.
William Craigie of Gairsay, related to Hugh Craigie who was a Member of Commonwealth Scottish Parliament in 1652.
Captain Robert Irving, writer.
So probably a mixture of Cromwell's men and those loyal to Charles II.

As to why they were listing the box of jewels, we are very grateful to the work of Dr Charlotte Young whose PhD subject is invaluable to our mystery and describes sequestration in the time of Oliver Cromwell. Here is a quote from her PhD page:

"Sequestration was the process by which land, money and goods were confiscated from delinquent families during the English Civil War. This tactic was primarily utilised by the Parliamentarians as a method of reducing the revenue available for Charles I to draw upon, and simultaneously finance their own military campaign, but the Royalists also launched their own sequestration policy in the mid-1640s, albeit on a smaller scale."

In a message to us she also added: "It's possible that Keith did fear a sequestration raid and so sent his most precious possessions as far away as he possibly could to stop them being confiscated. I've got multiple examples from England of people leaving valuables with friends and relatives because they know they're about to be raided and they want to protect things."

5. What happened to the jewels?
It is likely the jewels would have been secured as per General Monck's instructions in document 3, possibly sent to Leith and used to fund Cromwell's army.

I received yors of the 9th December conteining the jewells into the
iron chist belonging to the Laird of Benholme and desired yow that
yow will secure the same till forder (further) order. I have writtin to the commissioners
for sequestration concerning the same whose directions therin I would
have you observe I likeweell yow and yor [---?] caire in ordering
the keeping of the fast the first of November in regaird my letters came
to yow after the day of the observation of it heer and in England.
I remaine                         yor very loving friend and servant
Subscryved thus George Monck
Dalkeith the 18th Jan 1654
For Major Henry Ronnall Governor of Orknay
Can you help us find out more? What do you think of our theories and answers? Do you agree? Have you got theories or answers of your own? Please do get in touch. Personally, I would like to know more about James Keith of Benholm and where the jewels went next and more about Orkney during this time.  This is certainly a fascinating time period of history.

Sources used:
Who was Who in Orkney by W.S Hewison, 1998 [Orkney Room 920 Y]
A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen, Volume III edited by Robert Chalmers, 1855. [Archive Reference 920]
Cromwellian Scotland 1651-1660 by F D Dow, 1979 [Adult non-fiction 941.06]
Orkney and the Earls of Morton, 1643-1707 by Jane N Ross, 1977 [Orkney Room 941.06 Y]
D24/9/106 Baikie of Tankerness Papers: Authentic transumpt and copy of the commission by the Earl of Morton to James Keith of Benholm, 6 Nov 1649 [Original document]
GD150/2531/3 General statement made before the Sheriff regarding the iron box of jewels, 1654 [Original document]
TK032 - Photograph of Kirkwall from Cromwell's Fort area by Tom Kent
Ordnance Survey Name Books (ONB), 1881 [on Microfilm in the Archive Searchroom]

Friday, 7 February 2020

Iron Box of Jewels #2

There are three supporting documents with the Inventory of the Iron Box of Jewels we showed you in the first blogpost. Here are their transcriptions:

GD150/2531/2:

GD150/2531/2
"I William Craigy of Gairsay by these presents doe declare and testifi that James Keath somtime Laird of Benholme in the moneth of May 1654 did give me a verball order to go to the deceast* Elspeth Paplay my mother and to require and receave of her ane iron or steel box which wes locked (and wherof he had the key) and that I should keep the samyne, until such time as he should require me to delyver it bak againe to him: conforme to the which his order and desire I did receave the samyne locked box from my said mother and did keep the samyne by me until such time as it was called for by the present Governor of Orknay Major Henry Ronnall his order in August last; And then it wes broken up in presence of Charles Earle of Dumferling the said Major Henry Ronnall and Patrick Blair Shirreff of Orknay and the particullars found therin inventoried and consignd in the hands of William Stewart of Maynes at the said Earle of Dunfermling and Major Ronnall then desires in presence of severall famous witnesses both officers of the guarrison and honest countrymen As severall testificatts signed by them as that time doth evidence: I declare likewayes that in July last the saids James Keith of Benholme did two severall time send a servant of his named Robert Douglas from the ile of Stronsay to the ile of Rousay (being sixteen or eighteen myeles of sea) to require the box from me. Bot I being ignorant on what tearmes he stood with his Heighnes the Lord Protector and the state did both times refuse to delyver it, whereupon the said Major did send for it and disposs of it as above said Att which I witness to be reall trueth by this my subscription at Kirkwall the second day of December 1654
W Craigy

*We're pretty sure this means that his mother was alive at the time he asked her for the box and that she had died by the time he wrote the declaration. (We hope.)

GD150/2531/3:

GD150/2531/3 page 1

Dalkeith the 18th Jan 1654            
For Major Henry Ronnall Governor of Orknay
"I received yo[u]rs of the 9th December conteining the jewells in the iron chist belonging to the Laird of Benholme and desired yow that yow will secure the same till forder (further) order I have writtin to the Comissio[n]ers for sequestration concerning the same whose directions therin I sould have yow observe. I likeweell yow and yo[u]r concurers (conquerors) caire in ordering the keeping of the fast the first of November in regaird my letters came to yow after the day of the observation of it heer and in England.
I remaine   yo[u]r very loving friend and servant
Subscryved this George Monck
Dalkeith the 18th Jan 1654
For Major Henry Ronnall Governor of Orknay
_______________________________________________________
 
At Kirkwall the 6th March 1655 yeers the whilk day in presence of Patrick Blair of Litlblair [-------?] Shirreff prin[cipa]ll of Orknay and Zetland and Major Henry Ronnall Governor and Shirreff Deputy of Orknay compeired personally Williame Stewart of Maynes and Williame Craigy of Gairsay and desired that the letter abovewrittin might be transumed* and the saids Shirreffs ther judiciall act interponit therto And the samyne transumpt be the saids Shirreffs their decreet ordained to be delyvered to the saids Williame Stewart and Williame Craigy And to make faith in judgment conforme to the said letter. They which desire the said Shirreffs thought reasonable: and therefore have ordained and ordaines the said letter to be transumed and have interponed** and interpones ther judicall act and decreet therto. And to make faith in judgment in all tyme coming, which transumpt wes dewly collationed with the said prin[cipa]ll letter be me James Georgsone Shirreff Clerk of Orknay witnessing my signe and subscription manuell
Ja Georgson

GD150/2531/3 page 2
Leith 4th Feb 1654       For Major Ronnall Deputy Governor of Orknay

"In my last about ten dayes since, I desired yow to send these jewells belonging to the Laird of Benholme to Leith by the first responsible hand that would bring them safe to us: since which tyme being giwin (given) to understand that the pasing (passing?) friggat is to sail fra Orknay and to return further againe speedily: And conceaving it a good opportunity to have them sent by her: I desire yow to delyver them to Capitan Alexander Fairlay commander of the said friggat who hes a warrand from the Generall for that purpose in a boxe sealed with your seal he first seing (seeing) them inventoried a coppy wherof under your hand yow may please to send allong with him, And ane other copy yow may please to let him signe a recept upon for your oune (own) discharge which being done yow may driess (address?) them to us And give it him in speciall charge to be carefull of them that they may come saffe to our hands This is all I have to trouble yow with at present sawe (save) that I am...
                                                     ...Your very affectionat friend to serve yow

                                                                                                     Ed: Syller 
Att Kirkwall the 6th of March 1655 yeers The which day in presence of Patrick Blair of Litlblair [------?] Shirreff prin[cipa]ll of Orknay and Zetland and Major Henry Ronnall Governor and Shirreff deputy of Orknay compeared personally Williame Stewart of Maynes and Williame Craigy of Gairsay and desyred the letter abovewrittin might be transumed* and the said Shirreffs ther judiciall act interponed therto and the samyn transumpt be the said Shirreffs ther decriet ordained to be delyvered to the saids Williame Stewart and Williame Craigy and to make faith in judgement conforme to the samen letter the whilk desire the saids Shirreffs thought reasonable And therfore have ordained and ordaines the said letter to be transumed and have interponit and interpones ther judicial act and decrie[t] therto and to make faith in judgment in all tyme coming whilk transumpt wes duely collationat with the said prin[cipa]ll letter be me James Georgsone Shirreff Clerk of Orknay witnesing this my signe and sub[scrip]t manuell Ja Georgeson"


*Transume - to transcribe a legal document
**Interpone - to intervene [to prevent something]

GD150/2531/4:

GD150/2531/4 page 1
March 6th 1655
"I Major Henry Ronnall Governor of Orknay grants me by thir presents to have receaved from the hands of Willliam Stewart of Maynes the particullar jewels and uther underwrittin 
(To Witt) Imprimis (first item) one rose or round heart of small diamonds wherin ther is fourteen peece with a cross of small leser diamonds therin 
Item fyfteen roses of pearles containing four pearles in every peece.
Item ane carrat of small sparks of diamonds containing thirtty thrie small diamonds therof upon a threed of blak silk
Item ane string of small seed pearles containing three yards long of therabouts
Item ane ring sett round with round diamonds lacking thrie peece of diamonds
Item eighteen peece of peared (paired) amatists (amethysts) or grannatts (garnets) 
Item a [piketooth/pikworth?] case of gold with two gold [piketooths/pikworths?] 
Item on[e] two strings one hundreth and nyne blood beads
Item one smal dow (dove) of mother of pearle with gold wings lacking the head
contained within one steell box wherin particullars and box above writtin were formerly take out of the hands of William Craigy of Garsay by Charles Earl of Dumfermling and me And of mutuall consent of us both deposited in the hands of William Stewart of Maynes until such tyme as it should be cleared that they belonged to the Earl of Morton As a subscrybed paper by us and diverse otheres of the daitt at Kirkwall the fyfteenth day of August 1654 yeres-
And now I haveing receaved order from General Monck Commander in Chief of the Forces of Scotland of the date the [blank] day of February last bypast to secure them and to dispose of them as I shall be advised by the commissioners of sequestration at Leith. Also ane other order from Collonell Syller one of the saids Commissioners dated the 29th of February last pybast: Willing me to send the same fourth to him and the rest of the commissioners As the said two orders judicially transumed before the Shirreffs of Orknay at [----?] proports, in obedience to the which orders and conforme therto I have cald at this time for the said particullars and accordingly receaved the same from the said William Stewart of Maynes wherof as a grant the recept and discharge him of the samyne to Ja[me]s Governor of the place in name of the [State?] obliedge me by veilue of the said Generall and Comissioners orders to keep harmles and skaithles (undamaged) the saids Williame Stewart of Maynes and Williame Craigy of Gairsay for ther delywering of the [squire?] on my order, at the hands of all haveing interest or pretending to have the same because the same being consigned upon perill of the ouner I have by order of the Commissioners at Leith sent the same to them where the Earl of Morton or any other pretending interest to them may plead their rights and receave the samed they being only seased on now as belonging to the Laird of Benholm delinquent and farther I am content that these presents be inseirt on any publick register in this Nation therin to remayne for future memory and to receave all due execution constituting.
GD150/2531/4 page 2

My procurator for that effort in witness wherof thir presents are by Capt Robert Irving and sub[scribi]t by me at Kirkwall the sixth day of March 1655-
Peeres befor these witnesses
Patrick Blair of Litlblair Shirreff of Orknay
Andrew Young sometime servitor to the Earl of Morton
and James Georgson Shirreff Clerk of Orknay
and the said Capt Robert Irving
subscribed thus
Pa: Blair witnes
Henry Ronnall
An Young witnes
Ja:Georgson witnes
Robert:Irving witnes"

So there you have all the documents we have which are connected with the Iron Box of Jewels. If you have any comments, transcription corrections or suggestions, please add them below or on our Facebook or Twitter accounts. Or you can email us at archives@orkney.gov.uk The next blogpost will be about our interpretation of the documents and background evidence we have collected so far. Click on the label "Iron Box of Jewels" below to find all blogposts about this subject.

For those of you helping to figure out what the word piktooth/piketooth/pikwoth actually is here are a couple of close-ups from Gd150/2531/4 above.