Campbell, Archibald, fifth Earl of Argyll 1530-1573, the leader along with Lord James Stuart, afterwards earl of Moray [qv.], of the lords of the congregation at the Reformation, was the eldest son of Archibald, fourth earl of Argyll [qv.], and Lady Helen Hamilton, eldest daughter of the first earl of Arran. In 1556, along with Lord James Stuart, he attended the preaching of Knox at Calder, when they both so approved the doctrine that thei wissed it to have been publict (Knox, Works, i. 250). As lord of Lorne he signed the invitation to Knox to return from Geneva in 1557, and, along with his father, subscribed the first band of the Scottish reformers. While thus, both by natural choice and early training, inclined towards the reformed doctrines, he was solemnly enjoined in the will of his father, who died in August 1558, to give them his zealous support. At the same time his conduct never gave any evidence of extreme fanaticism, nor, on the other hand, tortuous and inconsistent as his actions afterwards became, does personal ambition appear to have been one of his ruling motives. In his early years his reputation stood very high. Cecil, writing to Elizabeth on 19 July 1560, informs her that Argyll is a goodly gentleman, universally honoured by all Scotland. In judging of his career it must, however, be borne in mind that at the crisis of the Reformation he was closely associated with Lord James Stuart, who was his senior by several years, and who besides possessed a strength of will and a knowledge of men and affairs which placed him almost on a level with Knox. The predominant influence of Lord James Stuart in a great degree moulded the public conduct of Argyll, and eliminated from it, during its earlier period, any uncertainty arising from indecision of purpose, impulsiveness of temperament, or mingled ulterior motives. Their early friendship, cemented by their common interest in the teaching of Knox at Calder, was a fortunate occurrence for the Reformation, which, but for the fact that they worked hand in hand in its support when its fate seemed suspended in the balance, might have been frustrated for many years.
At first the action of Argyll and Lord James Stuart in joining the queen regent with their forces after the monasteries and religious houses had been spoiled by the rascal multitude at Perth in May 1559, showed such lukewarmness towards the Reformation that Willock and Knox upbraided them for their desertion of the brethren, but they warmly defended themselves as having acted in the interests of peace. Through their mediation a cessation of hostilities was agreed upon by both parties, all controversies being reserved till the meeting of parliament. Influenced, however, by a sermon of Knox, who expressed his conviction that the treaty would only be kept till the regent and her Frenchmen became the strongest, Argyll, Lord James, and the other lords of the congregation, before separating on the last day of May 1559, subscribed a bond in which they obliged themselves, in case that any trouble be intended, to spare neither labour, goods, substance, bodeis, or lives in maintenance of the libertie of the whole congregation and everie member thereof (Calderwood, History, i. 458-9). The suspicions of Knox found almost immediate justification, for on the day that the supporters of the Reformation left Edinburgh the queen regent proceeded to restore the popish services and to garrison the city with Scotch soldiers in the pay of France. Argyll and Lord James, having remonstrated with her in vain, secretly left the city with three hundred followers, and went to St. Andrews, whither they summoned the leading reformers to meet them on 4 June to concurre to the work of the Reformation. The destruction of the cathedral of St. Andrews and the razing of the monasteries, which again followed the preaching of Knox, were probably not included in their programme, but here as elsewhere it was found vain to endeavour to curb the excited crowd. On the news reaching the queen regent at Falkland, she gave instant orders to advance to St. Andrews, with the view of crushing Argyll and Lord James, still attended by only a slender retinue. Already, however, her purpose had been foreseen and thwarted. They hastened to occupy Cupar with a hundred horsemen, and from Fife and Forfar their supporters flocked in so rapidly that, in the words of Knox, they seemed to rain from the clouds. Before noon of Tuesday, 13 June, their forces numbered over 13,000 men, which, under the command of Provost Haliburton of Dundee, occupied such a strong position on Cupar Muir, overlooking the town and commanding with their artillery the whole sweep of the surrounding country, that the queen regent, after opening negotiations, agreed to a truce of eight days, meanwhile engaging to transport the French troops that were with her beyond the bounds of Fife, and to send commissioners to St. Andrews to arrange the differences between her and the congregation (see Tenor of Assurance in (Calderwood's History, i. 467). The first part of the agreement was kept, but after waiting in vain for the promised arrival of the commissioners in St. Andrews, Argyll and Lord James addressed to her a joint letter (printed in Calderwood's History, i. 468-9), requesting the withdrawal of the garrison from Perth, that the same may be guided and ruled freely. Receiving no reply, they advanced against the town, and the garrison, after some delay in hope of relief, surrendered on 26 June. In revenge for the slaughter of their citizens, the inhabitants of Dundee then proceeded to sack the palace and church of Scone, which were saved for one night by the interposition of Argyll and Lord James. On the following night their restraint was withdrawn, as they were called away by the sudden message that the queen regent intended to stop the passage of the Forth at Stirling. Leaving Perth at midnight, they were again successful in defeating her purposes, and, proceeding immediately to Linlithgow, so disconcerted her by their rapid movements, that on hearing of their arrival there she retreated with her French troops to Dunbar; and, though only attended by a small following, Argyll and Lord James, without the necessity of striking a blow, entered Edinburgh on 29 June 1559. From Dunbar the queen regent issued a proclamation against them as rebels, to which they replied by a letter on 2 July 1559, asserting that their only purpose was to maintain and defend the true preachers of God's Word (see documents in Calderwood's History, i. 478-82). To their representations she at first answered so pleasantly as to awaken hope that all they stipulated for would be conceded, but in the midst of the negotiations she suddenly appeared in Edinburgh with a strong force, upon which the lords agreed to deliver up the city on condition that matters should remain in statu quo till the meeting of parliament on 10 Jan. Meantime Argyll hastened to the western highlands to counteract the intrigues of the queen regent with James Macdonald of Isla, the most powerful of the western chiefs, and was so successful that in October 1559 Macdonald was on his way to join the lords of the congregation with seven hundred foot soldiers. They did not arrive too soon, for the queen regent had begun to fortify Leith, and at the beginning of the siege by the forces of the congregation a sally of the French, which drove them to the middle of the Canongate and up Leith Wynd, was only stopped by Argyll and his highlanders. So stubborn was the resistance of the French, and so successful were the emissaries of the queen regent in increasing her following, that the lords of the congregation found it advisable on 5 Nov. to evacuate the city and retire to Stirling. In February following a contract was entered into between them and Queen Elizabeth of England—part of which bound Argyll to assist Elizabeth in subduing the north of Ireland—by which an English army was sent to their assistance; but while they were still besieging Leith the queen regent died on 10 June 1560, having before her death sent for Argyll and the other protestant lords, to whom she expressed regret that matters had come to such an extremity, and laid the blame on Huntly and her other advisers. Peace was soon afterwards agreed upon, and at a parliament held in the ensuing August a confession of faith, drawn up by the protestant ministers, was sanctioned as the standard of protestant faith in Scotland. This was followed by a Book of Discipline, which the Earl of Argyll was the third of the nobility to subscribe. Soon afterwards the lords made an act that all monuments of idolatry should be destroyed, and Argyll, with the Earls of Arran and Glencairn, was employed to carry out this edict in the west of Scotland.
Argyll was one of those who received Queen Mary on her arrival at Leith, 19 Aug. 1561, and shortly afterwards he was named one of the lords of the privy council. As before, he continued to act in concert with Lord James Stuart, the queen's half-brother, who had been created earl of Moray, and by whose advice Mary was content for some years to regulate her policy. Randolph, writing to Cecil, the minister of Elizabeth, on 24 Sept. 1561 (quoted in Keith's History, ii. 88), reports that, when on 14 Sept. high mass would have been sung in the Chapel Royal, the Earl of Argyll and Lord James so disturbed the quire that some, both priests and clerks, left their places with broken heads and bloody ears; but in reality their interference was of a totally different kind, and for resisting the attempt of the mob to stop the service they were warmly denounced by Knox, who, on account of their tolerant attitude towards catholic practices, was estranged from them for some years. Mary's power of fascination had had its effect in modifying the reforming zeal of Argyll, and to it must be partly attributed the inconsistencies of his subsequent course of action. Possibly it was chiefly with the view of cementing this influence that in May 1563 Mary sought the good offices of Knox in bringing about a reconciliation between Argyll and his wife, her half-sister and her favourite attendant, natural daughter of James V, by Elizabeth, daughter of John, lord Carmichael. The letter which Knox wrote Argyll was not weall accepted of the said erle; and yit did he utter no part of his displeasur in public, but contrairrelie schew himself most familiar with the said Johne (Knox, Works, ii. 379). But if the letter was unsuccessful Mary did not manifest any resentment against Argyll, for in August of this year she went on a visit to him in Argyllshire to witness the sport of deer-hunting (Calderwood, History, ii. 229). With the determination of the queen to marry Darnley matters were, however, for a time completely changed. Moray, in disgust at the overweening insolence of Darnley, retired from the court, upon which Mary did not scruple to affirm her conviction that he aimed to set the crown on his head, while at the same time she made use of expressions implying her mortal hatred of Argyll (Randolph to Cecil, 3 May 1565). So much were Moray and Argyll in doubt regarding her intentions that when they came to Edinburgh to keep the day of law against the Earl of Bothwell, then on trial for high treason, they deemed it prudent to bring with them seven thousand men, and at no time would be in court together, in order that one of them might be left on guard. The current rumour that Moray and Argyll about this time formed a plot to seize Mary and Darnley as they rode from Perth to Callander, and to convey Mary to St. Andrews and Darnley to Castle Campbell, though not improbable in itself, has never been sufficiently substantiated, but there can be no doubt that they used every effort to secure the aid of Elizabeth to prevent the marriage by force of arms.
After the marriage Moray vainly endeavoured to promote a rebellion, and Argyll, on the charge of resetting him, was summoned before the council, and, failing to appear, was on 5 Dec. 1565 declared guilty of lese majesty (Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, i. 409). Meanwhile Moray had gone to the English court to lay his case before Elizabeth, and had been ignominiously dismissed from her presence as an unworthy traitor to his sovereign. On learning the nature of his reception, Argyll bade Randolph inform his mistress that if she would reconsider herself he would stick to the English cause and fight for it with lands and life; but he demanded an answer within ten days; if she persisted he would make terms with his own sovereign (Randolph to Cecil, 19 Nov. 1565; Cal. State Papers, For. Ser., 1564-5, p. 522). This was the turning-point in the career of Argyll, although there is unquestionably exaggeration in the statement of Froude that he who had been the central pillar of the Reformation from that day forward till Mary Stuart's last hopes were scattered at Langside, became the enemy of all which till that hour he had most loved and fought for (Froude, History of England (Lib. ed.), viii. 224). His negotiations with Elizabeth still continued, and what is chiefly manifest in his subsequent conduct is the absence of a settled and determined purpose, indicating that he was swayed by different motives at different times. Without the help of Elizabeth he had no option but to make terms with Mary, and it so happened that after the murder of Rizzio Mary was glad to be reconciled both to him and Moray. That the murder had their sanction there can be no doubt, but they were not present when it was committed, and Darnley, who had denounced Morton, Ruthven, and the other perpetrators of the deed, made no allusion to their connection with it. When it became known that Darnley was himself the principal contriver of the murder, the queen's attitude towards those who had all along opposed the marriage must have been somewhat changed, and, at least as regards Argyll, she gave strong proof of his restoration to her confidence when, on going to Edinburgh to be confined of a child, she ordered lodgings to be provided for him next her own. Shortly after this Argyll was caught in the toils which virtually bound him in honour or dishonour to the cause of Mary, so long as there was a party to fight for her in Scotland. His course of action was determined rather by circumstances than by his own will or choice. Possibly he became at first the tool of the queen and Bothwell in order to revenge himself on Darnley for his treachery towards Morton and the other banished lords, for at this time he was negotiating with Elizabeth to interfere on their behalf, on the promise that he would with his highlanders hold Shan O'Neil in check in Ireland, and would do what he could to hinder the practice between the queen and the papists of England. That Argyll signed the bond at Craigmillar for the murder of Darnley there can be no doubt; and it was in the company of him and his countess that the queen spent the evening after she had left her husband to his fate. Thus irrevocably bound by his share in the murder to the fortunes of Mary and Bothwell, the part which Argyll had now to act was painful and humiliating to the last degree. Along with Bothwell he signed the proclamation offering 2,000l. for the discovery of the murderer, and as hereditary lord justice he presided at the trial, by a packed jury, of Bothwell, his co-conspirator. Along with other lords he was present on 19 April 1567 at the supper given by Bothwell in Ainslie's tavern, when, after they were all excited by wine, Bothwell induced them to sign a bond in favour of his marriage with the queen. After the marriage took place Argyll manifested a temporary gleam of repentance by signing the bond for the defence of the young prince, and, notwithstanding the boast of the queen, for Argyll I know well how to stop his mouth (Drury to Cecil, 20 May 1567), it was only after the flight of Bothwell that he joined the party of nobles who on 29 June met at Dumbarton to plan measures for her deliverance.
On 20 July following he was summoned to attend a meeting of the general assembly of the kirk, but excused himself on the plea that the brethren assembled in Edinburgh were in arms, and that he had not yet joined himself to them, but promised meantime to continue in the maintenance of the true religion (Calderwood, History, ii. 378). He was nominated one of the council of regency who, when the queen, on the suggestion of the assembly, consented to demit the government in favour of her son, were charged to carry it on till the arrival of Moray from France; but this did not reconcile him to the arrangement, and although Moray on his arrival, being in respect of old friendship loath to offend him, sent him an invitation to meet him for consultation on public affairs, he declined to accept it, and only made his submission when he found further resistance to be for the time vain. Possibly the influence of Moray might have been effectual in restraining him from taking further measures in behalf of the queen, had it not been for their quarrel on account of the attempt of Argyll to divorce his wife, to which Moray, who was her half-brother, would not consent. Argyll was further exasperated by the action of the general assembly in regard to the divorce, for the assembly, doubtless with the view of punishing him for his political conduct, compelled him for separation from his wife and other scandalous offences to submit to public discipline (ib. ii. 397). Nor could he have appreciated the impartiality which meted out similar justice to his countess, who, having acknowledged that she had offended God and slaundered the kirk, by assisting the baptisme of the king in Papisticall maner with her presence, was ordeaned to mak her publict repentance in the Chappell Royall of Stirline, in time of sermoun (ib.). But while these matters must have had their effect in estranging him from the regent and from the extreme protestant party as represented by Knox, the main influence that bound him to the cause of the queen and made him persevere in conspiring for her rescue from Lochleven, was dread of the revelations made on the scaffold by the subordinate agents in the murder of Darnley. Something must moreover be attributed to the influence of his relations the Hamiltons, who knew how to work both on his hopes and fears. Subsequently he also asserted that in his efforts in behalf of Mary he had been secretly encouraged by Elizabeth (Randolph to Cecil, 21 Feb. 1573), and his appeals to her to support the cause of Mary after her escape would seem to favour the supposition. He signed the bond, 8 May 1568, to effect the queen's deliverance from Lochleven, and on her escape joined her at Hamilton, and was appointed lieutenant of the forces who mustered to her support. To his incapacity, owing to irresolution or his disablement by a fainting fit, is generally attributed the fatal hesitancy at the crisis of the battle of Langside on 13 May, which resulted in the rout of the queen's forces and the ruin of her cause.
After the flight of the queen to England, Argyll retired to Dunoon, and, refusing to submit to the regent, appeared twice in Glasgow to concert measures with the Hamiltons for her restoration; but, as Elizabeth only supported the movement by promises never put in execution, he at last made an amicable arrangement with the opposite party, and gave in his submission to Moray at St. Andrews on 14 April 1569. After the murder of the regent, Argyll and Boyd sent a letter to Morton on 17 Feb. 1570 avowing ignorance of the perpetrators of the deed. It is perhaps only charitable to suppose that Argyll was not aware of the conspiracy against the life of one who so long had been his most confidential friend, and afterwards had dealt with him so leniently, but he continued for a time to act as formerly with the Hamiltons. Subsequently, finding the cause of Mary hopeless, he made terms with the faction of the king, and, after the death of Lennox on 4 Sept. 1571, was a candidate, with the Earl of Mar, for the regency. The choice fell on Mar, but Argyll was chosen a privy councillor. On Morton obtaining the regency in November 1572, Argyll was made lord high chancellor, and on 17 Jan. 1573 obtained a charter for that office for life. Chiefly through his agency a reconciliation was brought about between the two rival parties, on the secret understanding—of considerable importance to himself—that no further inquiry should be made into the murder of the late king. He died of stone on 12 Sept. 1573 (not 1575 as sometimes stated), aged about 43. After the divorce of his first wife, the half-sister of Mary, queen of Scotland, he married Johanneta Cunningham, second daughter of Alexander, fifth earl of Glencairn, but by neither marriage had he any issue, and the estates and title passed to his brother, Colin Campbell of Boquhan, sixth earl [qv.].
Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vols. i. and ii.
Calendar of State Papers (Scottish Series), vol. i.
ib. (Irish Series) for 1509-1573
ib. (Foreign Series) from 1559 to 1573
Knox's Works (Bannatyne Club), vols. i. ii. iii. and vi.
Calderwood's History of the Kirk of Scotland (Wodrow Society), vols. i. ii. and iii.
Bishop Keith's History of the Affairs of Church and State in Scotland (1835), vols. i. ii. and iii.
Donald Gregory's History of the Western Highlands
Letters to the Argyll Family from various Sovereigns (Maitland Club)
Historie of King James the Sext (Bannatyne Club)
Crawford's Officers of State, i. 116-32
Douglas's Scotch Peerage, i. 91-3
the Histories of Tytler, Burton, and Froude.
Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]