Archibald Masterton(fl 1611-1637)

Archibald Masterton (fl 1611-1637)

Skipper in Leith

Archibald Masterton appears in the Privy Council records in 1616, convicted of illegal export of butter, and again in 1626 when the mariners of the East of Scotland were commanded en bloc to man the king's ship Assurance which had been beached in a storm, and return it to England. There was a good degree of resistance to the summons, and some, like Archibald Masterton, provided substitutes for the salvage crew of the ship.

Later he was one of the skippers consulted when authorities were considering the need for a lighthouse on the Isle of May. The entry in 1627 is recorded as "Archibald Mertoun", but this could well be a misreading of the original manuscript. Masterton would often be shortened to M'rtoun. The same error occurred in 1616, and we can see with some certainty that Archibald Mortoun is one and the same as Archibald Maistertoun.

It is by no means certain that Archibald Masterton, "Servitor to the Earl of Mar" in 1600 is the same Archibald Masterton, but there are connections between the Mastertons of Grange, and the Mastertons of Parkmill and the Earl of Mar, so it is a possibility that before becoming established as a skipper at Leith, Archibald spent some time in the service of the Earl of Mar.


It is possible that Archibald Masterton, skipper in Leith, was a son of John Masterton of Easter Grange, and his wife Marjorie Alexander and that he married Lux Cobroun (Cockburn) and had four children, John, Robert, George and Andrew. There is a possibility that he is also the father of James Masterton who traded in Sweden, and settled there, adopting the Swedish version of his name as "Jacobus Mesterton". Fuller details of Archibald's extended family can be found at this link.

Register of the Great Seal of Scotland


1080. Apud Halyrudhous, 17 Oct 1600.

REX confirmavit cartam Joannis comitis Marrie domini Erskine et Allua, - [qua concessit M. JOANNI HAY de Eister Kennet, heredibus ejus et assignatis quibuscunque, dimidietatem terrarum et ville de Ferritoun (per Edw. Broun de Keir et Bessetam Alexander in Ferritoun occupat.), in baronia et dominio de Allua, vic. Clakmannane; quam Joannes Andro scriba et Joneta Millar ejus conjux (quibus sub reversione alienata erat) in favorem dicti M. Jo. H. resignaverunt:- REDDEND. dicto com. unum den. albe firme:- cum precepto sasine directo Wil. Couston in Ferritoun :- TEST. Jo. Erskine de Littill Sauquhy, Tho. Home, Arch. Maistertoun, servitoribus dicti com., Walt. Alexander filio Roberti A. burgensi de Striviling :- carta scripta per And. Hay servitorem Joannis Wilsoun scribe Edinburgensis :- Apud Halyrudehous, 16 Feb 1600] :- TEST. ut in aliis cartis &c.
xliii 132.

The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland
John Maitland Thomson (ed)
AD 1593-1608
HM General Register House
Edinburgh, 1890

Register of the Privy Council of Scotland

Vol X, First Series. 1613-16.

11 January 1616, Edinburgh

Complaint by the King's Advocate as follows:- Despite the divers acts of Parliament anent the transporting of tallow and butter, one Johnne Or, merchant, burgess of Edinburgh, and Jonet Mosie in Leyth, ....
Also the officers having taken 4 half barrels of butter belonging to Archibald Maistertoun, mariner in Leith, 2 half barrels belonging to James Mathiesoun, mariner there, 2 half barrels belonging to Johnne Lyell, mariner there, and one half barrel belonging to Andro Shaw, mariner there. - Pursuer appearing personally, and defenders also appearing, and having confessed that the goods were theirs and that they were about to export them, the Lords order all their movable goodes to be confiscated.

11 January 1616, 'ante meridiem'

"The quhilk day in the presence of the Lordis of Privie Counsaill compeirit presonalie, Archibald Mortoun, maryner in Leith, James Mathiesoun, mariner thair, Johnne Lyel, maryner in Leythe and Andro Shaw, mariner thair, and gaif thair grite and solemne oathe that thay nor nane of thame sall not transporte ony forbiddin guidis furthe of this realme heirefter; and everyone of thame become actit as cautionair for the uther that thay sall not transporte ony forbiddin goodis heirefter, ilkane of thame under the pane of jcli."

The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland
D Masson(ed)
Vol X, First Series, 1613-16
pp 444-5
HM General Register House
Edinburgh, 1891

Register of the Privy Council of Scotland

Second Series, Vol I. 1625-1627.

25 January 1626, Edinburgh

“The Lordis of Secreit Counsell, for some speciall occasionis concerning his Majesties service, ordains ane maisser of Counsell or other officiar of armes to pas and in his Majesties name and auctoritie fense and arreist the whole Scottis shippis lyand in the harborie and roade of Leethe and in otheris harbories and roades upoun the south and north coastis of the Watter of Forth, to remayne under arreistment ay and quhill thay procure licence from his Majesties Counsell for thair louseing and going to the sea, and, if neid beis, to tak thair sailes fra thair raes, whairthrow thay depairt not in maner foirsaid.”

“Forsamekle as, his Majesties ship callit The Assureance being imployed with commissioun to attend some of his Majesties service upoun the sea, it fell out that by contrarious windis and storme of weedder sho wes driven from the rest of hir companie, and with much difficultie rancounterit this coast and wes broght within the Firthe, and is now lyand in the roade of Leethe [ante, p. 200] ; and whairas directioun is come for the calling of hir bak againe to attend otheris his Majesties service ; and sieing sho standis in grite neid of pilottis and maryneris to saile hir towardis the Downis in England, the few number that is within hir being insufficient for suche a charge and unaquent with the dangeris upoun the coast ; and whairas the maisteris of shippis within the towne of Leethe hes bene delt with to undertak this charge, and promise maid unto thame not onlie of kynd and favourable usage within the ship, bot of competent hyris and wageis for thair service and of a present dispatche for thair saif returne home after thair arryvall at the Downis : nevirtheles thay most unduetifullie refuise to undertak this service, sua that his Majesties said ship is like to be exposed to grite haisard and danger, to the discredite and reproatche of this kingdome and his Majesties just offence, without remeid be provydit :

Thairfore the Lordis of Secreit Counsell ordanis letteris to be direct chargeing the personis underwrittin, - thay ar to say, James Hoome, James Blythe, Johnne Broun, Williame Duff, Gilbert Weddell, James Chopman, James Beanis, David Thomesoun, Lawrence Mairtene, Johnne Hendersone, Archibald Maistertoun, George Gourlay, James Gourlay, Andro Keir, Alexander Downie, Lawrence Fergussoun, James Downy, Robert Hendersone, Abraham Trumble, James Tarbett, Thomas Andersone, Walter Andersone, Hary Gray, George Scott, Williame Maissoun, Johnne Robertsone, Andro Murray, Alexander Pedie, Alexander Rind, Johnne Calder, Andro Mitchell, Christopher Johnnstoun, skipparis in Leethe, - to prepair and addresse thameselffis for his Majesties service in the conduct and saileing of the said ship towardis the Downis, and for this effect to go aboorde of the said ship, and to attend that service duetifullie and faithfullie as becometh goode subjectis, within tuentie foure houris nixt after the charge, under the pane of rebellioun, etc, and if thay failzie to denunce, etc, and esheate, etc.”

The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland
D Masson(ed)
Second Series, Vol I. 1625-1627
pp 219-220
HM General Register House

43. Charge, dated at Edinburgh, 25th January, 1626, and signed (L.S.) J.A. PRYMROIS, in terms of Act of this date, printed ante, p. 219, against mariners to serve in his Majesty's ship Assurance....and to the following, whom the messenger could not apprehend personally, he had made intimation at their dwelling places by thair wives and servants, viz,....Archibald Maistertoun, absent....

31 January 1626, Edinburgh

....Archibald Maistertoun, produced Michaell Bridges, who ressavit his pay....

The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland
D Masson(ed)
Vol I, Second Series, 1625-1627
pp 664, 666
HM General Register House

18 September 1627, Edinburgh

The Lordis in regaird of Archibald Mertoun his unwillingnes to serve his Majestie with his ship ordanis his Majesteis Admirall to tak the ordinance furthe of the ship with all the poulder and bullett being within hir, and that for furnissing of otheris shippis who will serve his Majestie in the transporte of his Majesteis forceis to the Ile of Rae.

The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland
P Hume Brown (ed)
Vol II, Second Series, 1627-28
HM General Register House
Edinburgh, 1900

Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh

20th July 1632

[The sum of 400 merks is allotted to each minister and the principal as gratuity.]

Ordains the thesaurer to repay the somme of fourtie pundis money as unlaw incurrit be Archibald Maistertoun at desyre of Maister Williame Wischert minister at Leith....1

1A skipper in Leith, fined on 20th June for selling wine, figs and raisins retail in that town and not offering the whole cargo to the Burgh.

29th April 1636

Compeired Johnne Luikup Alexr. Downye Archibald Maistertoun and David Robertsoun skippers in Leith and desyred the counsall to apoint some of thair nomber to meitt and confer with theme in name of the rest of the skippers of Leith anent the Trinitie hous and satling of the money is to be payed to thair poore1 and all questionnes betwixt the merchands and skippers. Conforme to the quhilk the counsall nominattis [a bailie, the dean of gild, treasurer, three of the council and the water bailie for that purpose.]

1This may refer to the case anent the hospital of Leith, brought by the masters and mariners and reported in P.C.R., vi. 79-81, 351, 652, 662. That the case reported concerned the Trinity House, not King James' Hospital, appears from the last page given, where the hospital is called "The Maisteris Skipperis Hospitall."

Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh
1626 TO 1641
Marguerite Wood, PhD., Keeper of the Burgh Records
p 110
Oliver & Boyd
Edinburgh, 1936

Register of the Privy Council of Scotland

Vol VI, Second Series. 1635-1637.

27 July - 18 September 1635, Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Dysart, Anstruther Easter & St Andrews 27th July - 18th September 1635.
Extract of Act and Commission of the Council for dealing with the proposed erection of a lighthouse upon the Isle of May, printed, ante, p.59. Cited to appear....Archebald Maistertoun thair (Leith), all schipperis, maisters and owneris of schippis and sailleris within the said towne of Leithe. Later Alexander (sic) Maistertoun, skipper in Leithe, took to advys with his depositione.

4 February 1637, Edinburgh

The List of Skipperes neames that I desyre to be insert in the decreit withe the bandis and nane uther bandis but thir under writin.
[20 names including] Archibald Maistertoun, skiperes in the north syd. Follows the bandis quhilk or exhibit in your owin handis:-
Item, in the first, one band maid be the Erill of Ebercorin, 2000 merks
Item, ane band be Thomas Ker of Ancrum, 1000 merks
Item, ane band be Robert Maistertoun, merchant in Edinburgh, 2000 merks...

The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland
P Hume Brown (ed)
Vol VI, Second Series, 1635-37
p 563
HM General Register House
Edinburgh, 1905