On this day in 1689 John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount Dundee, left Dundee and rode south to participate in William of Orange’s illegal Convention which had been called to determine who should be the next King of Scotland.
Just before Christmas 1688, James VII and II fled the throne of his three kingdoms, abandoning his subjects, his people and his responsibilities. William of Orange, at the head of his Dutch army, rode in to take over the royal palace at Whitehall.
On 13 February William and Mary were proclaimed joint monarchs of England and Ireland. The position of Scotland and her people in this matter of monarchical dispute now needed to be decided. As early as 7 January William had met with those of the Scottish political leadership who had come to debase themselves before him in London and invited their counsel as to how he should best pursue the Crown of Scotland. They recommended that he summon a Convention in Edinburgh on 14 March where the matter might be resolved. In the meantime they invited him to take upon himself the administration of the ancient kingdom
Throughout this process Dundee remained apart, and uncompromising. However, prudence demanded that he take steps to at least assess the danger to himself, as the anti-Jacobite forces grew in strength and focus.
To this end he employed William Gilbert, a Scottish theologian and Whig, who had attached himself to William’s court and interests some years previously. William appeared to tolerate Gilbert for his usefulness in unseemly clandestine matters but held him in low regard.
Gilbert raised Dundee’s query with William as to what action might be taken against him if he were to continue to live peaceably in Scotland. William pledged his protection as long as Dundee ‘were to live quietly’. Dundee then undertook not to disturb the new regime ‘unless forced’. A pledge he held to.
And so Dundee rode north, home to Dudhope Castle in Dundee to be with his pregnant wife. Over the next few weeks he busied himself with his responsibilities as Viscount Dundee, presiding over the meetings of the Town Council as Provost, during February.
Dudhope Castle, Claverhouse’s home in Dundee
Then on 13 March he took leave of Jean and rode south to William’s illegal convention and the crisis of his career.