"CHALMERS, DAVID, judicially styled Lord Ormond, an historian, priest, and lawyer,
was born in the county of Ross, about 1530, and educated at the unversity of Aberdeen.
In some biographies his name is erroneously spelled Chambers, but according to the
continuator of Nisbet he belonged to the
family of Chalmers of Strichen, in Aberdeenshire, and his fathers name was Andrew Chalmers.
After taking orders, he proceeded to France and Italy, where he studied theology and the
canon and civil laws, as was customary in those days. In 1556 he was a pupil of Marianus
Sozenus, at Bologna. On his return to Scotland, he became successively parson of Suddy,
provost of Creichton, and chancellor of the diocese of Ross. On 26th January 1565, he was
appointed by Queen Mary one of the lords of session on the spiritual side, when he assumed
the title of Lord Ormond. In the letter of presentation he was styled the queen's "well
beluffit clerk and familiar servitor," and he was also named a privy councillor. In 1566,
he was employed, with other legal functionaries, in compiling and publishing the Acts of the
Scottish parliament. The volume in which these are contained is known by the name of the
"Black Acts," from bring printed in black letter. The same year, Buchanan says, Queen Mary
lived in the Exchequer, "good in propinquo diversabatur David Camerius, Bothueli cliens,
cuhus posticum erat hortis Reginae vicinum, qua Bothuelius, quoties lubitum esset commearat."
A curious tale as the use made of these apartments may be found in Buchanan's 'Detection,' p.6.
In December of that year, he obtained a charter of the lands of Castleton and others in the
earldom of Ross, "hir majestie havand respect to the god, trew, and obedjent service done in all
tymes past to hir Majesties honour, will, and contentment, not only in this realme, but in
sic foreyu cuntries as it plesit hir hieness to command him, and that, therethrow, baith he
put his persoun in perill and danger, but alsua gretlie superexpendit himself;' and this
grant was ratified by parliament, 19th April, 1567.
Lord Ormond engaged in the conspiracy for murdering the queen's husband, the ill-fated Darnley,
and in the placard affixed to the door of the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, on the night of the 16th
February, he, with the earl of Bothwell, Mr. James Balfour, parson of Flisk, and 'black Mr.
John Spence,' were publicly denounced as the principal devisers thereof. Mr. Tytler, however,
is mistaken in supposing that his lordship took guilt to himslef by a precipitate flight to
France. [Tytler's Craig, p.95], as he was in the following year, namely on 19th August 1568,
forfeited for his assistance to Quenn Mary after her escape from Lochleven, and particularly
for being at the field of Langside on the side of her majesty. When the misfortunes of Queen
Mary forced her to quit the kingdom, Lord Ormond, who continued faithful to her, was
compelled to fly to Spain, where he experienced a gracious reception from King Phillip the
Second. He subsequently took refuge in France, as in 1572, he published at Paris
'Histoire Abrege de tous les Roys de France, Angleterre, at Ecosse;" which work he afterwards
enlarged with a history of the popes and emperors, and dedicated it to the French king, Henry
the Third. In 1579, he published other two works in the French language (see following list).
Sometime afterwards he returned to Scotland, and on 4th September 1583, received at Falkland
his "hieness' pacification," restoring him to all lands and offices, benefices, dignities,
honours and privileges, which had formerly pertained to him. Against this measure the
General Assembly of the church strenuously remonstrated with the king, as Lord Ormond still
lay under the suspicion of having been accessory to the death of his majesty's father; in
consequence of which, although the remission was ratified in parliament, 22nd May 1584, it
was clogged with a proviso that it should not extend to the "odious murthers of our
soverane Lordis darrest fader and two Regentis." He was, however, never brought to trial
for this or any other crime; and on the 21st of June 1586, he was restored to his seat on
the bench. He died in November 1592. His works are:
Histoire Abregee de tous les Roys de France, Angleterre at Ecosse, mise en ordre
par formie d'harmonie; contenant aussi un brief discours de l'ancienne alliance et
mutuel secours entre la France at L'Ecosse: plus, l'Epitome de L'Histoire Romaine des
Papes et Empereurs. Paris, 1579, 8vo.
La recherche des Singularites les plus remarkables concernant l'Etat d'Ecosse.
Paris, 1579, 8vo.
Discours de la legitime Succession des femmes aux Possessions de leurs Parens, et
du Government des Princesses aux Empires et Royaumes. Paris, 1579, 8vo.