James Douglas Morton, earl of, regent of Scotland, born in Dalkeith in 1530, executed in Edinburgh, June 3,1581. He was a younger of the great family of Angus, but in 1553 succeeded to the estates and title of his father-in-law, the third earl of Morton. In 1561 he became privy councillor, and in the beginning of 1563 was appointed lord high chancellor, He participated in the murder of Rizzio, and fled to England, but was pardoned. Although cognizant of the plot to destroy Darnley, he seems to have had no hand in its execution. After the forced abdication of Mary which followed the death of Darnley, and the coronation of her infant son, Morton was reinstated in his office of lord chancellor. He supported the interests of the earl of Murray, the regent against those of the queen; and to him is especially due the result of the battle of Lang-side, in consequence of which Mary determined to fly to England. In the violent contentions which divided Scotland after the assassination of Murray Morton became the real head of the Protestant party, and was a leader of that por-tion or the people who espoused the kings cause as opposed to the queen's. The earl of Mar, who had succeeded the earl of Lennox as regent, having died in October, 1572, Morton was elected regent in his stead on Nov. 24. Thenceforth he ruled Scotland with great rigor, thereby rendering himself odious.
He resigned Sept. 12, 1577, but soon regained his authority. Through the agency of the new favorite of the king, Oapt. Stewart, he was brought to trial for participation in the murder of Darnley, found guilty of high treason, and decapitated by an instrument called the maiden, which he is said to have introduced into Scotland.