While looking for details of life at Aberdour Castle in the seventeenth century, I found a letter from 1523, addressed to George Douglas of Pittendreich from Antony Ughtred, captain of Berwick.

The English soldiers named here were called ‘whitecoats’. Ughtred wanted to return Scottish prisoners in an exchange at Bunkle castle, near Reston in the Scottish borders. Or rather, I think that’s what he meant, as key details have been effaced by centuries of damp.

George Douglas’ mother Elizabeth Drummond had appointed him bailie of Bunkle in 1514. Bunkle belonged to Margaret Tudor as Countess of Angus, and three weeks before the date of this letter the Earl of Surrey suggested she visit there, so he could convey her to England.

This letter was intended to serve as a contract with George Douglas, signed and sealed by Ughtred, Thomas Foster, and William Langton. The surviving paper wafer seal with three annulets doesn’t seem to relate to these men.

National Records of Scotland GD150/3437/1

Maister Dowglase we recommend us to you and where as ye have certeyn whitcotts in your daingeour prisoners,  whose names hereafter foloweth in primis John Greisson xpofre [Christopher] Atkynsoun Richard Walker John Ranald Robert Adryngtoun Alexander Wintestalles Wm Falen and William Harduik, 

we dissyre  [?you] to let us them to sourtye [ … iij dais … us to … ] and severally to [enter theym … heale men],  fere within the iron gatts of Bonkell and ther to remayn tyll liefull entree betakyn of theym by you or your asignes but fraude or gyle

In witnes hereof we have sett our seales and subscribed our names the xiij day of September in the yere of our lord god mvc hunder & xxiij yeres

To aworshipfull man

George adowglasse

Antonie Vghtredde of etc

Thomas Forster knight

William Langton

If ye send theym with there horse and geyre your folks shalbe dealt withall after such manner & suche acase fortune ~

The letter is endorsed, ‘[…] of inglimen for bowroing of prisonars’

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