From Esmaleville or Malaville, a barony in the Pays de Caux. "Guillaume de Malleville" is on the Dives Roll, and appears in Domesday as William de Smalavilla, holding lands in Suffolk. "Robert de Malavilla, temp. Henry I., witnessed a charter in Yorkshire (Mon. Angl. i. 660), and one of Roger de Poitou (Ibid.). Roger de Malavilla held a fief 1165 from William de Ros: and other branches were seated in Bucks and Scotland."—The Norman People. Galfrid de Maleville settled under David I. on some lands near Edinburgh to which he gave his name; and was the first Justiciary of Scotland on record. In the following reign, he founded the church of Maleville, and in grateful memory of his dead master, granted it to the monks of Dunfermline for the salvation of the souls, not only of himself and his ancestors, but of David I. and his son Malcolm IV., stipulating that "the monks should uphold a perpetual light before the sepulchres of the said kings." He left three sons: i. Gregory, who founded a line that ended in the latter part of the fourteenth century, when the lands of Melville devolved upon Agnes, the wife of Sir John Ross; 2. Philip, whose posterity survived in the male line till 1468; 3. Walter, ancestor of the Earls of Melville. Walter's descendants were settled at Raith, in the co. of Fife, for many successive generations. Sir James Melville, who held the barony of Hallhill in that county, was ambassador from Mary Queen of Scots to Elizabeth, and afterwards in the household of her son, an accomplished statesman and courtier, who wrote the,'Memoirs' so often quoted in the histories of that time. His brother, Sir Robert, was also sent ambassador to England on two several occasions; the second time to endeavour to prevent the execution of the Scottish Queen; and spoke in her behalf with "such brave and stout language before the Council that Elizabeth threatened his life." In 1616, at the ripe age of eighty-nine, he was created Lord Melville of Monymaill, and survived to wear his new honours for five years. George, fourth Lord, was a zealous presbyterian, and had to fly to Holland on the discovery of the Rye-house plot, in which he had been implicated, thereby forfeiting the whole of his estates. He accompanied the Duke of Monmouth on his disastrous expedition in 1685, and had the good fortune again to escape abroad, and to return with the Prince of Orange three years later. His forfeiture was at once rescinded; and in 1690 he received the title of Earl of Melville from the new King, whom he subsequently served as Secretary of State, Keeper of the Privy Seal, and President of the Council. His wife, Catherine Leslie, was the grand-daughter of the famous Puritan General trained under Gustavus Adolphus (in whose service he attained the rank of Field Marshal), who commanded the Scottish army that invaded England in 1640, and routed the Royalists at Newbury. He was a cadet of the house of Rothes, and is described as "an unlettered soldier of fortune, of an advanced age, a diminutive size, and a distorted person." His soldiers bore on their colours the crown and covenant of Christ; and, true to his Swedish traditions, were "summoned by drums to sermon, and their tents resounded at dawn and sunset with psalms and prayers." On the conclusion of the treaty of Ripon in 1641, he was created by the parliament Lord Balgonie, and Earl of Leven. He was succeeded by a grandson and two great grand-daughters, but on the death of the last Countess in 1706, the title reverted to the son of his grand-daughter Catherine, David, second Earl of Melville, who thus united the two Earldoms that remain the heritage of his descendants.

Sir Walter Scott tells a ghastly story respecting one of this family, Melville of Glenbervie, who was Sheriff of the Mearns in the reign of James I. (of Scotland). "He bore his faculties so harshly, that he became detested by the barons of the country. Reiterated complaints of his conduct having been made to James I. (or, as others say, to the Duke of Albany), the monarch answered, in a moment of unguarded impatience, 'Sorrow gin the Sheriff were sodden and supped in broo!' The complainers retired perfectly satisfied. Shortly after, the Lairds of Arbuthnot, Mather, Laureston and Pittaraw, decoyed Melville to the top of the hill of Garvoch, above Laurencekirk, under pretence of a great hunting party. Upon this place (still called the Sheriff's Pot) the barons had prepared a fire and a boiling cauldron, into which they plunged the unlucky sheriff. After he was sodden (as the King termed it) for a sufficient time, the savages, that they might literally observe the royal mandate, concluded the scene of abomination by actually partaking of this hell-broth.

"The lairds were all outlawed for this offence: and Barclay, one of their number, to screen himself from justice, erected the kaim (fortress) of Mather, which stands upon a rocky and almost inaccessible peninsula, overhanging the German Ocean. The Laird of Arbuthnot is said to have eluded the royal vengeance by claiming the benefit of the law of clan Macduff,[1] and a pardon, or perhaps a deed of replegiation, founded upon that law, is said to be still extant among the records of the Viscount of Arbuthnot."

  1. "When the revolution was accomplished, in which Macbeth was dethroned and slain, Malcolm, sensible of the high services of the Thane of Fife, is said to have promised to grant the first three requests he should make. Macduff accordingly demanded (and obtained), 1st, that he and his successors, Lords of Fife, should place the crown on the King's head at the coronation (see Vol. 1., p. 215); 2ndly, that they should lead the vanguard of the army whenever the royal banner was displayed; and lastly, this privilege of the clan Macduff, whereby any person, being related to Macduff within the ninth degree, and having committed homicide in chaude mele (without premeditation) should, upon flying to Macduff's Cross, and paying a certain fine, obtain remission of their guilt." This cross, which was near Lindores (on the march dividing Fife from Stratherne), was destroyed by John Knox.

-- Cleveland

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