A McAllester Counterfeiter

On this day in 1601, a “doom was pronounced” against Thomas McAllester of Drummaquhen and several other Perthshire lairds.[1] According to the Parliamentary Register, these men had been convicted of lese-majesty for having “treasonably” counterfeited money, “with no respect for the holy spirit or for [the king], and flouting and despising [the king’s] authority and laws”.[2] 

When questioned, McAllester and the others confessed that they had entered into a plot with Robert Young and David Johnston, “makers of false currency”, to produce and use counterfeit currency and coinage. On 24 June 1599, two of McAllester’s associates were in Ayr, where they used some of that money to purchase a horse at the fair. It does not appear that McAllester was with them at that point, but evidently his association with them was known, and he was summoned with the others to appear before the Privy Council to answer the accusations against them.

Lese-majesty was a capital offence, so the “doom pronounced” against these men was a sentence of forfeiture and death. One of those involved, William Borthwick of Soutra, seems not to have obeyed the original summons. Upon learning the fate of his friends he fled the country, and according to judicial proceedings the authorities were still trying to get hold of him in April 1604, when a second summons was issued. By that time, McAllester is referred to as “the late Thomas McAllester of Drummaquhen”; the record states that he and Borthwick’s other accomplices had been “executed to the death”.

Copyright (c) Lynn McAlister, 2012


[1]I have no idea who this McAllester was. The lands of Drummaquhen, which he apparently held, are in Perthshire.

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