Campbell, Archibald, seventh Earl of Argyll 1576?-1638, eldest son of Colin, sixth earl of Argyll [qv.], by his second wife, Agnes, eldest daughter of William, fourth earl Marischal, widow of the regent Moray, was born about 1576. Being only eight years of age on the death of his father, he was commended by his will to the protection of the king, and placed under the care of his mother, with the advice and assistance of six persons of the clan Campbell. Quarrels arose between his guardians, and Archibald Campbell of Lochnell, near heir to the earldom, entered into a conspiracy with the Earl of Huntly to effect the murder of Campbell of Calder, of the Earl of Moray, and also of the young Earl of Argyll. Moray was murdered in February 1592 by a party of Gordons, under the command of the Earl of Huntly; Calder was shot by a hackbut; and Argyll, soon after his marriage, in 1592, to Lady Anne Douglas, fifth daughter of William, first earl of Morton, of the house of Lochleven, was attacked at Stirling by a serious illness, the result, it was supposed, of attempts to poison him by some of his household, bribed by Campbell of Lochnell. On 22 June 1594 Campbell of Ardkinglass, one of the conspirators, signed a document, in which he made a full confession of all that he knew of the plots against Calder and the Earls of Moray and Argyll. For some reason or other the confession was not immediately revealed to Argyll, and when, in the autumn of the same year, he was appointed king's lieutenant against the Earls of Huntly and Erroll, Campbell of Lochnell had command of one of the divisions of the army. With an army of six thousand men Argyll marched towards Strathbogie, and at Glenlivat fell in with Huntly and Erroll, in command of fifteen hundred men, mostly trained soldiers. Though advised to wait for the reinforcements which were approaching to his assistance, under Lord Forbes, Argyll, relying on his superiority in numbers, resolved to risk a battle, taking, however, the precaution of encamping on a strong position. Campbell of Lochnell treacherously made known to Huntly the disposition of Argyll's forces, and promised to desert to him during the engagement. At his suggestion an attack was suddenly made on the morning of 3 Oct., when the troops of Argyll were at prayers, by a discharge of artillery at Argyll's banner. Lochnell met with the fate which he had hoped might have befallen Argyll, and was struck down dead by a stray missile, but his followers seem to have faithfully carried out his instructions. A large number of the highlanders took to instant flight. Argyll, with only twenty men left around him, scorned to give up the conflict, and was forcibly led off the field by Murray of Tullibardine, shedding tears of grief and rage at the disgraceful cowardice of his followers. In his captured baggage several letters were found dissuading him from the fight. Shortly afterwards Argyll was informed of the conspiracy against his life, and also of the treachery of Lochnell. Hurrying to the north he proclaimed a war of extermination against Huntly and those who had deserted him at Glenlivat. To put an end to the conflict the king interfered, and in January following imprisoned Argyll in the castle of Edinburgh for oppression, said to have been committed by his followers (Calderwood, History, v. 361). On finding caution he was shortly afterwards liberated, and on 13 Feb. 1603 the king, before leaving for England, succeeded in reconciling him with Huntly. In 1608 he and Huntly combined against the Macgregors, and almost extirpated the clan. He was also completely successful in suppressing the lawless Clandonalds, after which, in 1617, he received from the king a grant of their country, which included the whole of Kintyre, and the grant was ratified by a special act of parliament. But although successful in winning for his family an unexampled influence in the west of Scotland, he found himself impoverished rather than enriched by his conquests. So great, says Sir John Scot in his Staggering State of Scottish Statesmen, was the burden of debt on the house of Argyll, that he had to leave the country, not being able to give satisfaction to his creditors. On the pretence of going abroad to the Spa for the benefit of his health, he obtained, in 1618, permission from the king to leave the country, but instead he went over to West Flanders to serve the King of Spain. In going abroad he was actuated by another motive besides the desire to escape the importunity of his creditors. For his second wife he had married, 30 Nov. 1610, Anne, daughter of Sir William Cornwallis of Brome, and by her influence had become a convert to the catholic faith. For leaving his country to fight in support of a catholic king he was on 16 Feb. 1619 denounced as a traitor and rebel at the market-cross of Edinburgh (ib. vii. 357), but on 22 Nov. 1621 he was again declared the king's free liege (ib. 515). On the departure of Argyll, Alex. Craig, author of Poeticall Essayes, wrote the following verses, preserved by Scot in his Staggering State:Now Earl of Guile and Lord Forlorn thou goes,Quitting thy Prince to serve his foreign foes,No faith in plaids, no trust in highland trews,Cameleon-like they change so many hues.
He afterwards returned to England, and died in London in 1638. His later years were spent in retirement. From the time that he left Scotland in 1619 his estates were held by his son Archibald (1598-1661), afterwards Marquis of Argyll [qv.]. By his first wife he had, besides Archibald, four daughters, and by his second five daughters and three sons, including James, colonel of the Scots Guard in France, created Earl of Irvine in 1642, who died in 1645 (Archives of French Foreign Office). To his first wife William Alexander, earl of Stirling, inscribed his Aurora, in 1604. There is a portrait of her in Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors (ed. Park, v. 64); but it was the second countess, not the first, as Walpole states, who collected and published in Spanish a set of sentences from the works of Augustine.
Reg. Privy Council of Scotl. vols. iv. v. and vi.
State Papers, Scottish Ser. vol. iv.
Calderwood's Hist. of the Kirk of Scotland (Wodrow Soc.), vols. v. vi. and vii.
Sir John Scot's Staggering State of Scottish Statesmen (ed. 1872), pp. 40-41
Acts of the Parl. of Scotland, passim
Donald Gregory's Hist. of the Western Highlands
A Faithful Narrative of the Great and Marvellous Victory obtained by George Gordon, Earl of Huntly, and Francis Hay, Earl of Erroll, Catholic noblemen, over Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, lieutenant, at Strathaven, 3 Oct. 1594, in Scottish Poems of the Sixteenth Cent. ed. Dalyell, Edin. 1801, i. 136
Douglas's Scottish Peerage, i. 93-4
Histories of Tytler and Hill Burton.
Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]