narrating some of the events of which the abbey and its church
were the scenes, we shall give the following list of the abbots,
so far as they can be traced in history:-
I. ALWIN was the first abbot he resigned the office in 1150, and
is said to have died in 1155 He was the confessor of King David,
and author of a "Book of Homilies and Epistles."
II. OSBERT died on the 15th Of December, 1150. He wrote the "Acts
of King David I.," and was buried with great pomp before
the high altar. He built some part of the monastery, and "gave
an image of God the Father, of solid silver."
III. WILLIAM I. succeeded in 1152. He witnessed several charters
of Malcolm IV and William the Lion; and when he became aged and
infirm, he vowed to God that he would say his psalter every day.
He enclosed the abbey with a strong wall.
IV. ROBERT is said to have been abbot about the time of William
the Hon, " He granted to the inhabitants of the newly-projected
burgh of the Canongate various privileges, which were confirmed,
with additional benefactions, by David, II, Robert III, and James
III. These kings granted to the bailies and community the annuities
payable by the burgh, and also the common muir between the lands
of Broughton on the west and the lands of Pilrig on the east,
on the north side of the road froth Edinburgh to Leith."
V. JOHN, abbot in 1173, witnessed a charter of Richard Bishop
of St. Andrews (chaplain to Malcolm IV.), granting to his canons
the church of Haddington, cum terra de Clerkynton, per rectas
divisas. In 1177 the monastry was still in the Castle of Edinburgh.
In 1180 Alexius, a subdeacon, held a council of the Holy Cross
near Edinburgh with reference to the long disputed consecration
of John Scott, Bishop of St Andrews, when a double election had
VI. WILLIAM II., abbot in J206. During his time, John Bishop of
Candida Casa resigned his mitre, became a canon of Holyrood, and
was buried in the chapter-house, where a stone long marked his
VII. WALTER, Prior of Inchcolm, abbot in 1209, died on the 2nd
of January, 1217. He was renowned for learning and piety.
VIII. WILLIAM III., of whom nothing is known but the name, and
that he was ejected from his office.
IX. WILLIAM IV, the son of Owen, resigned his office in 1227,
when old and infirm, and became a hermit on Inchkeith, but returning,
died a monk of Holyrood. His name occurs in a crown charter of
Alexander III., confirming the lands of Newbattle, 24th June,
X. ELIAS I., the son of Nicholas. According to Father Hay he drained
the marshes around the abbey, built the back wall of the cemetery,
and at his death was buried behind the high altar in the chapel
of St. Mary.
XI. HENRY, the next abbot, was named Bishop of Galloway in 1253;
consecrated in 1255 by the Archbishop of York.
XII. RADULPH, abbot, is mentioned in a gift of lands at Pittendreich
to the monks of St. Marie de Newbattle.
Xlll.ADAM, a traitor, and adherent of England, who did homage
to Edward 1. in 1292, and for whom he examined the records in
the Castle of Edinburgh,. He is called Alexander by Dempster.
XIV. ELIAS II. is mentioned as abbot at the time of the Scots
Templar Trials in 1309, and in a deed of William Lamberton, Bishop
of St. Andrews, in 1316. In his time, Holyrood, like Melrose and
Dryburgh, was ravaged by the baffled army of Edward 11. in 1322,.
XV.SYMON OF WEDALE, abbot at the vigil of St. Barnabas, 1326,
when Robert I. held a Parliament in Holyrood, at which was ratified
a concord between Randolph the famous Earl of Moray and Sir William
Oliphant, in connection with the forfeited estate of William of
Monte Alto. Another species of Parliament was held at Holyrood
on the 10th of February, in the year 1333-4, when Edward III.
received the enforced homage of his creature Baliol.
XVI. JOHN II., abbot, appears as a witness to three charters in
1338, granted to William of Livingston, William of Creighton,
and Henry of Brade (Braid ?).
XVII. BARTHOLOMEW, abbot in 1342.
XVIII. THOMAS, abbot, witnessed a charter to William Douglas of
that ilk, Sir James of Sandilands, and the Lady Elenora Bruce,
relict of Alexander Earl of Carrick, nephew of Robert I., of the
lands of the West Calder. On the 8th of May, 1366, a council was
held at Holyrood, at which the Scottish nobles treated with ridicule
and contempt the pretensions of the kings of England, and sanctioned
an assessment for the ransom of David II. taken prisoner at the
battle of Durham. That monarch was buried before the high altar
in 1371, and Edward Ill. granted a safe conduct to certain persons
proceeding to Flanders to provide for the tomb in which he was
XIX. JOHN III., abbot on the 11th of January, 1372. During his
term of office, John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of
Edward III., was hospitably entertained at Holyrood, when compelled
to take flight from his enemies in England.
XX. DAVID, abbot on the 18th of January, in the thirteenth year
of Robert 11. The abbey was burned by the army of Richard 11.
whose army encamped at Restalrig; but it was soon after repaired.
David is mentioned in a charter dated at Perth, 1384-5.
XXI. JOHN (formerly Dean of Leith) was abbot on the 8th of May,
I386. His name occurs in several charters and other documents,
and for the last time in the indenture or lease of the Canonmills
to the city of Edinburgh 12th September, 1423. In his time Henry
IV. spared the monastery in gratitude for the kindness of the
monks to his exiled father John of Gaunt.
XXII. PATRICK, abbot 5th September, 1435. In his term of office
James II., who had been born in the abbey, was crowned there in
his sixth year, on the 25th March, 1436-7 ; and another high ceremony
was performed in the same church when Mary of Gueldres was crowned
as Queen Consort in July, I449. In the preceding year, John Bishop
of Galloway elect became an inmate of the abbey and was buried
in the cloisters.
XXIII.JAMES, abbot 26th April, 1450.
XXIV ARCHIBALD CRAWFORD, abbot in 1457. He was son of Sir William
Crawford of Haining and had previously been Prior of Holyrood.
In 1450 he was one of the commissioners who treated with the English
at Coventry concerning a truce and again in 1474, concerning a
marriage between James Duke of Rothesay and the Princess Cecile
second daughter of Edward IV. of England, He was Lord High Treasurer
of Scotland in 1480 He died in 1483. On the abbey church (according
to Crawford) his arms were carved more than thirty times. "
He added the buttresses on the walls of the north and south aisles,
and probably built the rich doorway which opens into the north
aisle." Many finely executed coats armorial found over the
niches, among them Abbot Crawford's frequently-a fesse ermine,
with a star of points, in chief, surmounted by an abbot's mitre
resting on the pastoral staff.
XXV. ROBERT BELLENDEN, abbot in I486 when commissioner concerning
a truce with England. He was still abbot in 1498, and his virtues
are celebrated by his namesake, the arch dean of Moray, canon
of Ross, and translator of Boece, who says "he left the abbey,
and died ane Chartour-monk." In 1507 the Papal legate presented
James IV, in the name of Pope Julius I in the church, amid a brilliant
crowd of nobles with a purple crown adorned by golden lilies,
a sword of state studded with gems, which is s preserved in the
Castle of Edinburgh He also brought a bull, bestowing upon James
the title Defender of the Faith. Abbot Bellenden, in 1493 founded
a chapel in North Leith, dedicated to Ninian, latterly degraded
into a victual granary. The causes moving the abbot to build this
chapel independent of the spiritual wants of the people were manifold,
as set forth in the charter of erection. The bridge connecting
North and South Leith, over which he levied toll was erected at
the same time. The piers still remain.
XXVI. GEORGE CRICHTOUN, abbot in 1515 and Lord Privy Seal, was
promoted to the see of Dunkeld in 1528. As we have recorded elsewhere
he was the founder of the Hospital of St. Thomas near the Water
Gate. An interesting relic of abbacy exists at present in England.
About the year 1750, when a grave was being dug in the chancel
of St. Stephen's church, St Albans, in Hertfordshire, there was
found buried in the soil an ancient lectern bearing his name,
at which is supposed to have been concealed there some time during
the Civil Wars. It is of cast brass, and handsome in design, consisting
of an eagle with expanded wings, supported by a shaft decorated
with several mouldings, partly circular and partly hexagonal.
The eagle stands upon a globe, ,and the shaft has been originally
supported on three feet, which are now gone.
lectern at present is five feet seven inches in height, and is
inscribed:-"GEORGIUS CREICHTOUN, EPISCOPUS DUNKENSIS."
He died on January 24th, 1543, and the probability is that the
lectern had been presented to Holyrood on his elevation to Dunkeld
as a farewell gift, and that it had been stolen from the abbey
by Sir Richard Lea of Sopwell, who accompanied the Earl of Hartford
in the invasion of 1544, and who carried off the famous brazen
font from Holyrood, and presented it to the parish church of St.
Albans, with a magniloquent inscription. "'This font, which
was abstracted from Holyrood, is no longer known to exist, and
there seems no reason to doubt that the lectern, which was saved
by being buried during the Civil Wars, was abstracted at the same
time, and given to the church of St. Albans by the donor of the
XXVII. WILLIAM DOUGLAS, Prior of Coldingham, was the next abbot.
He died in 1528.
XXVIII. ROBERT CAIRNCROSS, abbot September, 1523. He had been
previously provost of the collegiate church of Corstorphine, and
was twice High Treasurer, in 1529 and 1537. In 1538 he was elected
Bishop of Ross, and held that office, together with the Abbacy
of Ferne, till his death, 31st November, 1545-
XXIX. ROBERT STUART, of Strathdon, a son of James V. by Eupham
Elphinstone, had a grant of the abbacy when only seven years of
age, and in manhood he joined the Reformation party, in 1559.
He married in 1561, and received from his sister, Queen Mary,
a gift of some Crown lands in Orkney and Shetland in 1565, with
a large grant out of the queen's third of Holyrood in the following
year. In 1569 he exchanged his abbacy with Adam Bishop of Orkney
for the temporalities of that see, and his lands in Orkney and
Shetland were erected into an earldom in his favour 28th October,
XXX.ADAM BOTHWELL, who acquired the abbacy in commendam by this
strange and lawless compact, did not find his position a very
quiet one, and several articles against him were presented in
the General Assembly in 1570. The fifth of these stated that all
the twenty-seven churches of the abbey wherein divine service
had been performed " are decayit, and made some sheep-folds,
and some say ruinous that none dare enter into thame for fear
of falling, especially Halyrud Hous, althocht the Bishop of Sanct
Androw's, in time of Papistry, sequestrat the haill rentis of
the said abbacy, because only the glassen windows wer not holden
up and repairt." To this Bothwell answered that the churches
referred to had been pillaged and ruined before his time, especially
Holyrood Church, "quhilk hath been thir twintie yeris bygane
ruinous through decay of twa principal pillars, sa that none wer
assurit under it," and that two thousand pounds would not
be sufficient for the necessary repairs. He resigned his so-called
abbacy in favour of his son before 1583, and died in 1593. He
was interred near the third pillar , from the south-east corner,
on the south side of the church.
XXXI. John BOTHWELL, his eldest son, held the abbey in connnendam
under the-great seal, 24th February, 1581, and was a Lord of Session
in 1593. In 16O7 part of the abbey property, together with the
monastery itself, was converted into a temporal peerage for him
and his heirs, by the title of Lord Holyroodhouse. John Lord Bothwell
died without direct heirs male, and though the title should have
descended to his brother William, who had property in Broughton,
after his death, none bore even nominally the title of abbot.
A part of the lands fell to the Earl of Roxburghe, from whom the
superiority passed, as narrated elsewhere.
The " Chronicon Sanctae Crucis" was commenced by the
canons of Holyrood, but the portion that has been preserved comes
down only to 1163, and breaks off at the time of their third abbot.
"Even the Indices Sanctorum and the ' two Caledonian Benefactors
and Brethren, begun from the earliest times, and continued by
the care of numerous monks,' may-when allowance is made for the
magniloquent style of the recorder-mean nothing more than the
united calender, martyrology, and ritual book, which is fortunately
still preserved. It is a large folio volume of 132 leaves of thick
vellum, in oak boards covered with stamped leather, which resembles
the binding of the sixteenth century."
The extent of the ancient possessions of this
great abbey may be gathered from the charters and gifts in the
valuable Munimenta Ecclesie Sanctae Crucis de Edwinesburg and
the series of Stent Rolls. To enumerate the vestments, ornaments,
jewels, relics, and altar vessels of gold and silver set with
precious stones, would far exceed our limits, but they are to
be found at length in the second volume of the " Bannatyne
Miscellany." When the monastery was dissolved at the Reformation
its revenues were great, and according to the two first historians
of Edinburgh its annual income then was stated as follows :
By Maitland : In wheat. 27 charders, 10 bolls.
In bear.. .40 " 9
In oats.. 34.. " 15 31⁄2 pecks.
501 capons, 24 hens, 24 salmon, 12 loads of salt, and an unknown
number of swine.
In money, £2,926 8s. 6d..Scots.
By Arnot : In wheat. 442 bolls. In bear.....640. In oats......
560 with the same amount in other kind, and £6250 sterling.