Campbell, Archibald, fourth Earl of Argyll d. 1558, eldest son of Colin, third earl of Argyll [qv.], and Lady Jane Gordon, eldest daughter of Alexander, third earl of Huntly, immediately after succeeding to the title and offices of his father, in 1530, was employed in command of an expedition to quell an insurrection in the southern isles of Scotland. The voluntary submission of the principal chiefs rendered extreme measures unnecessary, and Alexander of Isla, the prime mover of the insurrection, was able to convince the king not only that he was personally well disposed to the government, but that the disturbances in the Isles were chiefly owing to the fact that the earls of Argyll had made use of the office of lieutenant over the Isles for their own personal aggrandisement. The earl was therefore summoned before the king to give an account of the duties and rental of the Isles received by him, and, as the result of the inquiry, was committed for a time to prison. Shortly afterwards he was liberated, but was deprived of his offices, and they were not restored to him until after the death of James V. In a charter to him of the king's lands of Cardross in Dumbartonshire, 28 April 1542, he is called master of the king's wine cellar. Along with the Earls of Huntly and Moray he was named one of the council of the kingdom in the document which Cardinal Beaton produced as the will of James, and which appointed Beaton governor of the kingdom and guardian to the infant queen. After the arrest of Beaton, 20 Jan. 1542-3, Argyll retired to his own country to muster a force to maintain the struggle against the Earl of Arran, who had been chosen governor. Shortly afterwards the Earls of Argyll, Bothwell, Huntly, and Moray, supported by a large body of the barons and landed gentry, as well as by the bishops and abbots, assembled at Perth, avowing their determination to resist the measures of the governor to the uttermost. On being summoned by the governor to disperse they deemed it prudent not to push matters to extremities; but when it became known that Henry VIII of England had succeeded in arranging a treaty of marriage between the young queen Mary and Edward, prince of Wales, the Earls of Argyll, Huntly, Lennox, and Bothwell marched from Stirling with a force of ten thousand men, and compelled the governor to surrender to their charge the infant queen, with whom they returned in triumph to Stirling. In the summer of 1544 Lennox, who had gone over to the party of the English king, plundered the Isle of Arran, and made himself master of Bute and the castle of Rothesay, but as he sailed down the Clyde he was fired on by the Earl of Argyll, who with four thousand men occupied the castle of Dunoon. After a consultation with his English officers he determined to attack Dunoon, and, notwithstanding the resistance of Argyll, effected a landing and burnt the village and church. Retreating then to his ships, he subsequently laid waste a large part of Kintyre; but, as he had not succeeded in obtaining possession of the castle of Dumbarton, the main purpose of the expedition was a failure, since it was impossible without it to retain a permanent footing on the Clyde. On the forfeiture of the estates of Lennox, Argyll was rewarded with the largest share. Although Lennox continued to foment discontent in the Isles, the practical result of the dissensions he had sown was still further to increase the power of Argyll. At the battle of Pinkie, 10 Sept. 1547, Argyll, with four thousand west highlanders, held command of the right wing of the Scottish army. In January 1547-8 he advanced to Dundee with the determination of making himself master of Broughty Castle, but apparently the negotiations of the English prevented him from persevering in his purpose, although in a letter to Lord Grey, 15 March 1548 (State Papers, Scottish Series, i. 83), he denied the rumour that he favoured England, and had been rewarded by a sum of angel nobles. If he did manifest a tendency to defection it was only temporary, for shortly afterwards he rendered important service along with the French at the siege of Haddington, and was made a knight of the cockle by the king of France at the same time as the Earls of Angus and Huntly (Knox, Works, i. 217). At an early period Argyll came under the influence of Knox, and he subscribed the first band of the Scottish reformers. On his way to Geneva in 1556 Knox made a stay with him at Castle Campbell, where he taught certain days (ib. i. 253). After the agreement of the barons, in December 1557, that the reformed preachers should teach in private houses till the government should allow them to preach in public, Argyll undertook the protection of John Douglas, a Carmelite friar, caused him to teach publicly in his house, and reformed many things according to his counsel. To induce Argyll to renounce the reformed faith, the Archbishop of St. Andrews sent him a long and insinuating letter (see ib. i. 276-80), to which he wrote an answer replying particulerlie to every article (ib. i. 281-90). He died in August 1558, whareof, according to Knox (ib. i. 290), the Bischoppis war glaid; for they thought that thare great ennemye was takin out of the way. In his will he enjoined his son that he should study to set fordwarte the publict and trew preaching of the Evangell of Jesus Christ, and to suppress all superstitioun and idolatrie to the uttermost of his power. By his marriage to Lady Helen Hamilton, eldest daughter of the first earl of Arran, he had one son; and by his marriage to Lady Margaret Graham, only daughter of the third earl of Menteith, one son and two daughters. He was succeeded in the earldom by Archibald, fifth earl (1530-1573) [qv.], his son by the first marriage. Colin, sixth earl [qv.], was his son by his second marriage.
Register of the Great Seal of Scotland
Calendar of State Papers (Scottish Series)
Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. i.
Diurnal of Remarkable Occurrents (Bannatyne Club, 1833)
Bishop Lesley's History of Scotland (Bannatyne Club, 1830)
Knox's Works (Bannatyne Club), vol. i.
Donald Gregory's History of the Western Highlands
Douglas's Scotch Peerage, i. 91.
Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]