Johnny Armstrong of
Gilnockie was youngest son of the Laird of Mangerton, the clan chief.
He was probably the most famous of all the Border reivers, dreaded on the English side of the Border, but dearly loved by his people, a highly respected and gifted chief.
Long before the
days of Chicago, he had established a very successful and lucrative
protection racket which extended into England as far south as the River
Tyne. All within this region paid tribute to him for their own safety
apparently, was among those invited. Considering his experience and
They prepared well for the meeting equipping themselves in the very best attire and rode north.
Passing through the narrows of Moss Paul they were ambushed by detachment of the king's horsemen who escorted them to Caerlanrig.
At Caerlanrig, they were brought before James who, when he saw them so finely attired, expressed his anger that they should surpass the king in finery, and said;' What wants yon knave that a king should have'.
In the confrontation that followed it soon became clear that the king had no intention of granting any pardon and he ordered that Gilnockie and his companions be taken away and hanged.
Gilnockie did not plead for their lives but he did offer many inducements if their lives were spared as he was a powerful chief and could offer much.
The previous year, 1530, the people of Eskdale had received remission and there is no reason for believing that any further charges had been brought against Gilnockie. He and his followers were reprehensibly betrayed and were hanged without any pretext of a trial.
'Ye lied, ye lied, now King,' he says
Death of Gilnockie occurred in November 1531
Gilnockie was a shrewd and wily chief and a great survivor. While there are no contemporary account of the arrangements that may have been made, it is impossible to believe that he would have deliberately submitted himself, and his men, to the king's authority unless he had received irrefutable assurances from the king of safe conduct.
The fact that this act resulted in widespread revulsion and condemnation by so many, even those close to the king, adds force to the theory that the Gilnockie party were lured to their deaths by an amoral, treacherous king.
James V had had a disturbed childhood and was a sulky teenager. His bad judgments and injustice has earned him the contempt of many.
He died when only 30, it is said, of shame.
He left a week old daughter who became Mary, Queen of the Scots.