James Graham – 1st Marquess of Montrose and 5th Earl of Montrose

James Graham

James Graham

Portrait by William Dobson, some commentary by Carolyn Bruce.

James Graham was hung, quartered and his head impaled on a stake at the Mercat Cross on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, On 21 May in 1650!

On 21 May 1650, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose and 5th Earl of Montrose, Chief of Clan Graham and an able and brilliant soldier, was hanged at Old Market Cross in Edinburgh. When Charles I tried to force upon the Scots a prayer book they regarded as “too Catholic”, the Presbyterian Scots resisted, and James Graham joined them,  partially because of the political power King Charles had vested in Anglican Bishops. Civil war raged for years, with Montrose participating at first against the king, and later, against the Covenanters, as he tried to establish an apolitical clergy. His reputation as a military leader was well earned, and after the Battle of Kilsyth in 1645, the king appointed him Lord Lieutenant and Captain-general of Scotland. When Charles I was defeated in the Battle of Naseby and sent for Montrose to come to his aid, Montrose was defeated at Philiphaugh. Unable to raise another army, he escaped to Norway. Charles I was beheaded, and his son, Charles II, in exile, from where he appointed Montrose Lieutenant of Scotland. As such he returned home to raise an army, but was betrayed; the king had struck a deal with the Covenanters to regain his throne. After his execution “The Great Montrose” was decapitated and his head was set upon “the prick [pike] on the highest stone” of the Old Tolbooth at St. Giles Cathedral. There it remained for 11 years, at which time his body parts were reunited for a hero’s funeral.


You can read about this event in my novel DARK DESTINY, which is book three of the DARK BIRTHRIGHT TRILOGY.

Here is an excerpt:

Chapter 30 – “Letters” June 29, 1650

Drake Castle

The Duke stood in his study, gazing out the open window.  The day was oppressively hot, with temperatures above ninety.  Because of the weather, he was informally dressed – in breeks, a shirt, and no shoes or socks.  “Whew, it’s hot!”  He mopped his brow with a handkerchief.

Dughall spotted Jamison crossing the courtyard with a pack of letters in his hand.  His spirits lifted.  “Perhaps it’s from Gilbert.”  He left the window and moved his ledgers to the sideboard.  There was a knock on the door.  “Come in.”

Jamison entered.  “My Lord.”  The servant was sweaty from the heat.  “A courier dropped these letters at the gate.”  He placed them on the desk.

“How many are there?”


Dughall motioned for him to take a seat.  He picked up one of the envelopes and saw that it was addressed to Jamison.  “This one is for ye.”

The servant grinned.  “I know.  I want to read it together.  It’s from my contact in Edinburgh.  He’s a member of Parliament.  I asked about Montrose.”

Dughall frowned.  “Ah…  The trial.”

“And execution.”

“We shall see.”  The Duke sliced open the envelope and extracted the letter.  “Shall I read out loud?”


The author had some schooling.  It was written in fancy handwriting.

Jamison my friend,

You inquired about the Marquess of Montrose.  There is quite a story to tell.  The Parliament condemned him to death in absentia before he arrived here.  James Graham was brought as a prisoner to Edinburgh and without trial was sentenced to death on May 20th.  Archibald Johnston read his fate out loud for all to hear.  He was to be hanged at the Market Cross with a copy of De Rebus hung ‘round his neck.  This book you may remember was Bishop Wishart’s favorable biography of Graham’s life.  But there was more to his humiliation!  He was to swing on the scaffold for three hours, after which time, his head was to be severed and his body quartered.  Unless he repented, he was to be buried in unhallowed ground. 

Graham did not repent.  He insisted that he was a real Covenanter and a loyal subject.  This was met with jeers and shameful gestures of mockery.

I watched the sentence carried out on May 21st at the town market cross.  I must say that Graham accepted his fate with grace and courage.  When allowed final words, he prayed to heaven, “Scatter my ashes!  Strew them in the air, Lord, since thou knowest where all these atoms are.”

The hanging was then carried out.  As prescribed, his body hung for three hours, was decapitated, and quartered.  The head was displayed on a pike at the Tollbooth Prison, while the parts were dispersed for display in Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, and Aberdeen.      

I suspect that you will approve of this action, given your experience with the man.  But it was a disgraceful end for a Lord of the realm.  I fear that we have set a bad precedent.  After his death, some of us convinced Parliament to bury his body parts in hallowed ground.  They were going to dump them in a common grave on Burgh Muir.

In closing, we must be careful what we wish for!  Someday, it could apply to us.  I hope that this satisfies your curiosity.  Stay safe, my friend.  Give my regards to Lord Drake and the Lady of the castle.

 Sincerely – John H.

The Duke shuddered.  “He’s right.  That was a disgraceful way for a lord to die.”

Jamison grunted.  “Agreed.”


Our Sketch of Lord Montrose

Our Sketch of Lord Montrose

You can read about the trilogy at:


My Mother’s Day Gift to You – in memory of my mother

Heartland Verses

My mother was an author, too.  Download her eBook FREE using coupon code FM36P at checkout.  Good until May 31, 2015

Download link:   https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/54111

Book description: Memoirs, stories, and poems from the heart of Clara A. Bastien Treat, one of America’s Rosie-the-Riveters.  About the author – Clara Treat was a wife, mother, and grandmother.  She was a well-known antique dealer, inventor, and WWII Rosie-the-Riveter.  Her writing was inspired by love of family, freedom, and country.


Rosie the Riveter


Chapter One

North Tonawanda, New York

December 4, 1941

A few days before the Pearl Harbor attack

            The days before Pearl Harbor were some of the happiest in my life.  The gang met at my house two or three evenings a week to play cards, listen to the player piano, talk, and eat a wonderful snack that my mother provided.  The house had been built around the turn of the century and had a long room in the front with a lovely front porch.  A gas log fireplace provided a cozy and warm place for us to meet.

Three tables were set up for pinochle and the front parlor served as a dance floor.  There were fourteen young men and four young women in our group.  Some families wouldn’t allow their daughters to participate because they thought we were too wild, but it wasn’t true.  We were as innocent and pure as the driven snow.  After a while, we would roll up the rugs and dance to the player piano or a lively tune on the radio.

Most of the guys were like brothers to us, except for a few.  I was regarded as Chester’s girl and my sister Julie, who was younger, was unattached.  She did however take the time to flirt with each and every one of them.

We were coming out of the depression, which had held us down for so long. Some of our friends joined the army and navy to get a job and joined us on furlough.  To survive tough times my widowed mother ran a boarding house, providing two meals a day, a packed lunch, and a place to sleep for seven men.  My sister and I helped out; keeping busy with laundry, ironing, and housework and my brother Jim kept the lawn and maintained the house.

On top of that, Julie and I worked as usherettes at the Riviera Theatre several evenings a week.  It was a busy life, but we enjoyed ourselves.  There was no time to get into trouble.

Then, everything changed…




Chapter Two 

North Tonawanda, New York

December 7, 1941

“We have witnessed this morning the attack of Pearl Harbor and a severe bombing of Pearl Harbor by army planes, undoubtedly Japanese. The city of Honolulu has also been attacked and considerable damage done. This battle has been going on for nearly three hours…It’s no joke. It’s a real war.”

—    News bulletin from Honolulu, heard over WCAE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I shall never forget that day.  My sister and I were on our way to work as usherettes at the Riviera Theatre in North   Tonawanda, New York.  We noticed people gathering on street corners, alerting us to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The attack had come in the morning hours on the Hawaiian Islands.  With wire delays and the speed of relay, the news did not reach us until well into mid-afternoon.  My first feeling was disbelief, which turned quickly to horror at the thought that anyone would attack the United   States like that.  It occurred to my sister, Juliette, and I that this day would forever change our country and us.  We would have to pitch in and help our country to defend itself in any way we could.

After work, the gang gathered at my house to discuss the attack and make plans to assist our country.  We wondered what happened to two of our friends, who were stationed on the Arizona.  One was a flyer and the other was a sailor.  We would wait patiently for news of their fate.

The boys reacted in different ways.  Some were angry, while others were committed to defending this country.  They discussed the branches of the military and decided on the ones to join.

Julie and I had a sinking feeling.  We knew that things were changing forever and that some of these boys would never come back.  We swore that we would do everything in our power to assist the war effort and write to each and every one of them.  The night ended on a somber note.  Due to the war, our gang was breaking up forever.

Over the next few weeks, most able-bodied young men joined the service and left for their destinations.  Because of this, the factories were left short-staffed and many of them were being converted to manufacture war goods and supplies to support the troops.  The radio and newspapers were calling for workers for these factories and asking the women to participate.  Shortages were expected, so Julie and I joined drives to collect paper, glass, tin, iron, and other materials.  It wasn’t enough.  We decided to leave our jobs as usherettes and work in the factories.

We were very close, so we always worked at the same place.  The first place that we went to work for was the Van Rault Mills on Sweeney  Street in North  Tonawanda.  The factory that had once made nylon lingerie and undergarments for women had transformed—virtually overnight—to making nylon for parachutes.  Julie was assigned to the rollers.  She had to wrap the giant rolls of nylon, package them and put them on a hand truck destined for the shipping department.  I was assigned to the spinner department, where cones of nylon thread were being spun into rolls.  I couldn’t let the cones run out, or the rolls would be faulty.

After three months, we’d had enough and sought employment at Remington Rand, Co. in Tonawanda.  This company had been involved in manufacturing office equipment, but had now geared-up to make parts for the airplanes being built by Buffalo-based Curtis-Wright.  At Remington Rand I learned how to drill and handle tools, something that I never thought I would be doing.  Julie was a driller as well, something that was out of character for her.  We were working on parts that were used to put airplane wings together.  Once, I got my drill caught in Julie’s hair, an act that led to a rule about hairnets.

After eighteen months, my sister and I passed security checks and accepted positions at Curtis-Wright to work directly on transport planes as riveters, drillers, and buckers.

Julie got lucky and became a bond-girl, selling war bonds at the factory as her regular job.  I was assigned to riveting and bucking on the C47 Transport Plane.  The noise in the plane was deafening and many of us lost some of our hearing.  The riveter and the bucker communicated by taps.  The riveter was outside tapping on the place where they wanted to rivet, while the bucker was inside tapping with a bucking bar.  When the two met, the riveting began.  The bucker’s job was uncomfortable and a bit dangerous.  Crouching in spaces where you couldn’t stand, you didn’t dare sit down for fear of getting a drill in your behind.  Each night, my ears rang for hours after I left the plant.

In addition to this, I received training and volunteered as a nurse’s aide at Degraff Memorial Hospital.  Julie and I volunteered at the local U.S.O., spending many nights dancing with young navy men and flyboys who would soon be shipped overseas.

My family, my friends, and I continued to contribute in other ways by collecting glass, paper, and anything that could be recycled for the war effort, in addition to planting “Victory gardens.”  Everyone was subject to rationing, so anything that we could grow was appreciated.

It was a time of uncertainty.  We did not know if, when, or how we would be attacked again.




Chapter Three 

North Tonawanda, New York

It was the summer of 1943.  Two young sailors, temporarily stationed in our area, rented an apartment from my mother.  The Richardson Boat Company that manufactured Chris-Craft pleasure boats had been refitted to make landing craft for the US Navy.  Ray Nobes and Jimmy Cavey had been tasked with shepherding the finished boats down the Erie Canal to Albany and points beyond, where they were loaded onto large ships.

Ray Nobes was a tall, slim, dark-haired young man from the state of Maine.  Reserved and soft spoken, he was a sweet man with a beautiful smile.

Jimmy Cavey, a New Englander as well, was tall and muscular and handsome in his uniform.  Outspoken and quick-witted, he enjoyed dancing the jitterbug and the waltz.

They rented a car and asked us to show them around.  Ray and Jimmy took Julie and me to Niagara Falls, the local Canteen, and on rides through the countryside.

One day, they came to us with sad news.  Their time in our area was almost up and they’d received orders to leave the next day for a European tour of duty.  The boys had a request.  If they could tell their officers that they were getting engaged to two sisters, they would be granted an extra day with us.  Would we be willing to say that we were engaged to them?

Julie and I saw no harm in it.  We liked these men and wanted to help them.  We agreed to meet them later on the bridge that crossed the Erie Canal to have one last evening together.

After dinner, we walked with the boys to the canal.  We were sad that they were leaving but flattered that they wanted to pretend to be engaged to us, even for a few hours.  We didn’t know if we’d ever see them again, yet we promised that we’d write faithfully.

On the bridge, we got a big surprise.  Both men presented us with diamond engagement rings and asked us to wait for them.  Julie was flattered and remarked that the rings were absolutely beautiful.  With tears streaming down her face, she promised Jimmy that she would think about it seriously.  I was shocked and had not considered marriage at that point.  How could I say no?  Ray was heading off to war and he might never return.  Reluctantly, I accepted the ring and agreed to think about it.

They left early the next day.  We had really enjoyed their company and life seemed empty without them.  Unwilling to tell our mother about this, we stashed the rings in a drawer.

Months later, I told Ray in a letter that I wasn’t ready for marriage.  I’m not sure what Julie did about Jimmy.

We busied ourselves working for the war effort and helping our mother with her boarding house.



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