John Masterton (fl. 1547-48)

John Masterton (fl. 1547-48)

Master Gunner in Defence of Edinburgh and Aberdeen

John Masterton, master-gunner, is mentioned in the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland for payments received in defence of Edinburgh Castle immediately after the Battle of Pinkie in September 1547, when the castle would have been under severe risk of being lost to the victorious English. Another John Masterton, possibly the same one, now a master-gunner on John Hume's ship, is mentioned in the Records of Aberdeen Town Council in 1548, when it was deemed appropriate to engage his services in defence of the town against Scotland's old enemy, England. This was during the campaign by Henry VIII to "persuade" the Scottish establishment to marry the infant Queen Mary to his son Edward. In 1544, he invaded southern Scotland and waged a brutal campaign ("The Rough Wooing") but this only had the effect of throwing the Scots into an agreement with the French King Henry II, for Mary to be betrothed to the dauphin, Francois. Despite a catastrophic defeat for the Scots at the Battle of Pinkie, after Henry's death, the Scots refused to consent to the forced marriage. A French fleet took the five year old Mary from Dumbarton Castle to France on 7th August, 1548.


This reference to John Masterton predates the earliest of the records of births and marriages in the Old Parish Registers. As yet, there is no other link to Masterton family branches. The Masterton seafarers in the 17th Century were generally centred around Kirkcaldy and Leith, so John Masterton, master gunner on John Hume's ship, may have been an early ancestor in one of those branches.

Accounts of Lord High Treasurer

September, 1547

The expensis debursit be my lord governoures preceptis and spetiall commande this instante moneth of September 1547.

Item, to Jhonne Skyrling, Maister Jhone Maistertoun, Williame Wilsoun, David Hay and thair collegis, to the noumer of sex persounes, extraordinaris in the castell of Edinburgh immediatelie efter the feild, [ed: the Battle of Pinkie] for half ane monethis wagis, to every ane of thame ij cronis; summa xiij li. iiij s.

Item, mair to the said Maister Johnne Maistertoun, at the commande of my lord governour, to be delygent and to solist thir and otherris to cum to the castell for keping of the same, in iiij crones of the sone, iiij li. viij s.

Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland
Vol 9. 1547-1560
Sir James Balfour Paul(ed)
HM General Register House
Edinburgh, 1905

Aberdeen Council Register

16th April, 1548

The said day, it is deuisit and ordinit be the counsale present for the tyme, for defence of this guid townn aganis our auld ennimeis of Ingland, that the maister gunnar of John Hwmis schip, callit John Maistertoun, and Dauid Colweill, now beand within this havin, be conducit to serue the toune for ane moneth to cum, and ordinit Andro Losoun to compone with them thairfour, and als as he appoyntis with tham to pay the same of the townis doubill gressumes, and quhat he pais to tham tha ordand the same to be alovit to the said Andro in his comptis thairof.

Item, tha ordand the said Andro to gif the Duchman, thair gunnar, fourty s. to by him ane garmond, and ordinis the same to be alovit to the said Andro in his comptis.

17th June, 1548

The said day, the counsale, present for the tyme, chesit Alexr. Ruderfurd and Dauid Andersoun, the townis collectouris and ressauris of the said townis instant taxt, of ane thousand lib. Scottis mone, ordinit to be taxit on this guid tovnn, for the defence of the same aganis our auld ennimeis of Ingland; and als ordinit the said ressaueris to ansuer and pay the tovnis severale gunnaris, viz., Maister John Maistertoun, Gilbert Menzeis, Alexr. Ratray, and Dauid Colwell, thair wagis frathinfurth, during the townis vill, of the said taxatioun siluer, and to tak thair acquittance thairwpoun, quhilk salbe alovit to thame in thair comptis thairof; quhilk Alexr. and Dauid accepit the said office one thame.

Extracts from the Council Register of the Burgh of Aberdeen
John Stuart (ed)
Spalding Club, 1844
p. 257