John Spens, of Condie (c.1520 - 1573)

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Death: Died
Managed by: Alisdair Smyth
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About John Spens, of Condie

Biographical Summary

"John Spens of Condie, King's Advocate - Son of John Spens of Condie, was one of nine advocates selected by the court, on the 1st March 1549, to procure before them in all actions. He was appointed joint advocate with Henry Lauder, on the 21st October 1555. He joined the cause of the Reformation, and is frequently noticed in the Register of the General Assembly. Knox relates with gratitude a visit which Spens paid to him when he was accused of treasonable convocation of the king's lieges in the end of 1563, and characterises him as a man of gentle nature, and one that professed the doctrine of the gospel. In a supplication given in name of Queen Mary to a parliament of her party held at Linlithgow in April 1571, it was stated, that the queen, immediately after her escape from Lochleven, had at Hamilton executed a Solemn Revocation of her pretended Resignation, be advyse of Mr. John Spens of Condie, hir advocat. Yet this seems improbable, as Spens certainly sided with the king's party, and continued advocate till his death in 1573."

SOURCE: An Historical Account of the Senators of the College of Justice, page 105

SPENS, Sir JOHN (1520?–1573), of Condie, queen's advocate, son of James Spens of Condie and Joanna Arnot (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1546–80, No. 1389), was born about 1520, and educated at St. Salvator's College, St. Andrews, where he became a determinant in 1543. In 1549 he was, with eight other advocates, chosen by the court of session to plead before them in all cases. On 21 Oct. 1555 he was appointed joint queen's advocate with David Lauder, after whose death in 1560 he was made a judge, but continued to hold at the same time the office of queen's advocate, Robert Crichton having been associated with him as joint queen's advocate from 8 Feb. 1559–60. When Knox, on account of his letter in reference to the mass, was in 1563 accused of treason, Spens, whom Knox describes as ‘a man of gentle nature, and one that professed the doctrine of the Evangel’ (Works, ii. 401), came to him privately to inquire about the matter, and expressed the opinion that he had not been guilty of anything punishable by law (ib.) Knox also states that when Spens was commanded to accuse him before the queen, he did so, but ‘very gently’ (ib. p. 403). He adhered to the queen's party after her marriage to Darnley; and he was officially entrusted with the prosecution of the murderers of Riccio (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 468). He also attended officially at the indictment of Bothwell for the murder of Darnley. By some he is identified with the ‘Black John Spens’ who was denounced in the placard affixed to the Tolbooth as one of the murderers; but in all probability the epithet ‘Black’ was made use of to distinguish this John Spens from the advocate, who, had he been the person meant, would certainly have been referred to as queen's advocate. In 1566 he was appointed one of a commission for the revision of the laws (Acta Parl. Scot. i. 29). He remained in office after the imprisonment of the queen until his death in 1573."

SOURCE: 'Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/390', Wikisource, The Free Library, 17 May 2010, 12:53 UTC, <http://en.wikisource.org/w/index.php?title=Page:Dictionary_of_National_Biography_volume_53.djvu/390&oldid=1886665> [accessed 20 October 2012]

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Sir John Spens of Condie's Timeline

1520
1520
1573
1573
Age 53
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