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Biggar and the House of Fleming
Chapter XXII - Military Movements and Royal Progresses at Biggar


THE encampment of Edward II. of England at Biggar, in 1310, is an important event in the history of the town. By this time 'S/ay Wallace had been betrayed into the hands of the English, and had been most unjustly and ignominiously put to death as a traitor; and his savage executioner, Edward I., who had caused so much injury to Scotland, had also paid the debt of nature, without obtaining the great object of his ambition, the entire subjugation of the Scots. His son, Edward II., now reigned in his stead; and though possessed of far less energy and discrimination than his father, he still pursued the same unjust and aggressive policy in respect to the northern kingdom. He had, however, to contend with Robert Bruce, a most politic, indefatigable, and valiant champion of his country's rights and liberties. Bruce, at first, had met with reverses and discouragements sufficient to crush any ordinary man; but, at the period to which we refer, he had rallied his scattered friends, and was overpowering in detail the generals whom Edward had sent to overawe and subjugate the country. The English king, on learning the reverses of his troops, and the successful career of Bruce, resolved to levy a formidable army, and once more make an inroad into Scotland, hoping that his imposing array of military force would put an end to all further efforts on the part of Bruce to oppose his designs. He summoned his vassals from all parts of his dominions, and, in a short time; arrived at Berwick with a mighty body of armed men, his principal generals being the Earls of Gloucester and Warrene, Lord Henry Percy, and Lord James Clifford. Leaving Berwick, they ascended, by leisurely marches, the vale of Tweed, and arrived at Biggar on the 12th or 14th day of October. The English monarch was, most likely, desirous of an engagement; but Bruce was now well aware of the advantages of stratagem and caution. He saw that he was more likely to defeat a large army by allowing it to march up and down a barren and desolated country, than by encountering it in the open field. He therefore kept hovering on the flanks of the English, intercepting their supplies, and cutting off such stragglers and foraging parties as fell in his way. On one occasion he pounced on a detachment of 800 men, and before a reinforcement could be sent to their aid, cut them to pieces.

From the long-continued wars in which Scotland had been engaged, tillage had been greatly neglected, and the country, at the time, was suffering from the direful effects of famine. Any com and forage that existed had been carefully removed to places not easily accessible to the English. This was a leading feature in the policy of Bruce; to which he gave prominent expression in what is called his Testament, originally written in Latin verse, and afterwards translated into Scotch by Hearne. In speaking of the manner of dealing with invaders, he says,

‘In strait placis gar keip all stoire,
And birnen the planen land thaim befoire,
Thanan sail thai pass away in haist,
Quhen that thai find nathing bot waist.'

Had the sound advice given in this testament been attended to by the Scots in after times, it would have saved them from many a sad disaster; and, at this day, we would not have had to lament such woeful defeats as those of Flodden, Pinkey, and Dunbar..

While Edward lay at Biggar, his troops began tp suffer very much from the want of provisions, and, therefore, he issued an edict to the sheriffs of the different counties of England to levy and forward supplies of com, etc. As this is the only state document, so faa: as we know, that ever was issued from Biggar, we will venture to give a translation of it from the Norman French in which it was written, and which was sp long the language of the English coi^t, although the statements contained in it are not, historically speaking, of any great importance:—

'The King to the Sheriff of Warwick, greeting.

‘Whereas we lately commanded you, by our letters bearing the stamp of our great seal and the specific seal of our Exchequer, to make diverse purveyances of corn and other things for the sustentation of us and our army in Scotland; and we have sii^ce learned by intelligence from some people, that you have begun to make these purveyances in an undue manner.: We again command and charge you, on the faith which you owe to us, that you cause these purveyances to be made in a manner so expedient, as not to incur tbe ill-will of our people, whom God protect. Our will in this respect is, that you do no wrong on account of this levy of provisions, and that you do not, under a pretence of purchase, carry off the goods of any one, without their consent; but that, by the best methods that you can adopt, you will cause the said victuals to be provided with all despatch, under warrants of your bailiffs, by way of purchase, voluntary presentation, and the favourable disposition of well affected people. And should it happen that the whole of our own revenues are not sufficient to procure these purveyances without having recourse to the property of others, we command you that with all despatch and caire yon levy the whole of our dues which you have, or may have in charge, from our resources, and the sums in our Exchequer, and by other express orders from us in your possession. You must exempt no one from the sums due to us unless he can show a discharged account or other acquittance, or you have instructions from us that he is to be specially exempted from the} taxes which y6u have levied, or may levy, as well as from all other warrarits issued by your bailiffs. Make, then, fully and without delay, the purveyance already referred to, and in the manner specified; And see that you fail not, as you regard the honour of us arid our fealfh, and wish to avoid the heavy penalty which you will incur for any loss that we may thereby sustain.

'Given at Biggar, the 18th day of October.

'The same instructions are given to the Sheriffe underwritten; that is to say, Kent, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertford, etc., etc.’

For six days, the English king and his army remained at Biggar; but Robert Bruce, true to the cautious policy which he had adopted, kept at a distance, and afforded no prospect of surrendering to his opponents, or coming to an engagement in the field. They struck their tents, therefore, and marched down the Clyde to Renfrew; but finding in the west the same uniform scenes of poverty and desolation, they soon reversed their march and came to Linlithgow, where they remained twelve days, and then returned to Berwick, at which town they arrived on the 10th of November. The whole expedition was a complete failure, being nothing better than a piece of empty ostentation and bravado. It awed and subdued nobody. Edward, in writing an account of it to the Pope, however, claims the credit of completely overawing the Scots. He says,—-'When we lately marched into Scotland to suppress the rebellion of Robert Bruce and his accomplices, traitors alike against us and your Holiness, they lurked in hiding-places like foxes, not daring to oppose us in the field.’ He had a very different tale to tell a few years afterwards, when he met Bruce on the famous field of Bannockburn.

Biggar was the place appointed as the rendezvous of the Scottish warriors, who, in February 1802-3, were summoned to repel an invasion of the English. Here assembled an army of 8000 or 10,000 men from Dumfriesshire, Ayrshire, and Clydesdale,—districts famed throughout the whole of our history for containing the boldest and most unflinching champions of freedom, civil and religious. The principal* commanders were Sir John Comyn, Lord of Lenzie and Badnooh, and one of the guardians of the kingdom, and the brave Sir Simon Fraser of Oliver Castle, in Peeblesshire. Walsingham and some other English historians state that Wallace held the chief command; but as this circumstance is* not confirmed by Fordun or any Scottish writer, it is probable that the great hero of national independence was not present, but, at the time, was living in retirement, or had gone to France, disgusted with the selfishness and treachery of the greater part of the Scottish nobility. We can readily imagine the lively interest with which the inhabitants of Biggar would regard the array of brave and patriotic men, who had assembled on their plains, not for the purpose of a mere holiday review, but of using their good broadswords, and imperilling their lives to repel the swarm of invaders that Edward of England had again sent to ravage their country. The English, amounting to 20,000 men, under the command of Sir John Segrave, marched about Lent from Berwick to Edinburgh, and then commenced to move in three divisions to the south. The Scots at Biggar appear to have got notice of their movements, and being nearly all horsemen, they hastened by a night march to meet them, and stop their progress. While it was yet dark, they fell on the first division near Roslin, commanded by Segrave, and ere it had time to draw up in battle order, routed it with great slaughter, and took a large number of prisoners, among whom were Segrave himself, sixteen knights, and thirty squires. The Scots, thinking they had gained a complete victory, began to collect the booty, when the second division, under the command of Ralph Manton, the cofferer or treasurer, appeared in sight, and no alternative was left but to slay the prisoners, and engage in a second combat. The Scots made the attack with such irresistible fury that they bore all before them, and captured the cofferer and many other persons of distinction. Scarcely had this combat been decided, when the Scots saw the third division, under the command of Sir Robert Neville, hastening to the scene of action. Worn out by their night march from Biggar, and their exertions in the two previous engagements, their first thoughts were turned to a retreat from the field; but the enemy was too close upon them to permit this to be done with safety, and they were compelled to fight a third time, and a third time they were victorious. Neville was laid lifeless on the field, and the whole of the English army were either killed or scattered in hopeless confusion over the plains of Lothian, while the Scots were rewarded by the rich booty left in their hands.

At a convention held at Stirling, on the 15th May 1565, Queen Mary expressed her intention to enter into the marriage relation with her cousin, Lord Damley. Lord John Fleming and the barons present gave their sanction to this union, and it was accordingly solemnized on the 20th of July following. Unfortunately, the step gave great dissatisfaction to some of her principal nobility. Professing a warm attachment to Protestantism, they viewed Darnley with special dislike on account of his adherence to the Romish faith. The Duke of Chatelherault, the Earls of Murray, Glencairn, Rothes, and Argyle, Lords Boyd and Ochiltree, and others, usually styled the Lords of the Congregation, drew together their followers, and broke out against her in open rebellion. Whatever may have been the faults and failings of Mary Stewart, she was certainly not destitute of courage and activity. She lost no time in summoning her faithful subjects around her, and, at the head of 5000 men, marched against the rebel lords, then assembled in the west of Scotland. The Queen expected to encounter them at Hamilton; but they eluded her, and proceeded to Edinburgh. Finding that they were to receive little support in the capital, they left it in a few dap, and retreated, first to Lanark, and then to Hamilton. Considering their position insecure in the west, they proceeded to Dumfries, so that, in case of necessity, they might readily retire across the border, and take refuge in the dominions of Queen Elizabeth, who secretly favoured their rebellious designs. Queen Mary and her friends, on the rebel lords first leaving Hamilton, went to Stirling, and then to St Andrews, from which she issued a proclamation calling on the rebels to lay down their arms, and appear before her in six days, to answer such charges as might be brought against them; but, as none of them appeared, they were denounced as rebels, and put to the horn. Her authority being thus set at defiance, she sent forth a summons to her faithful subjects to assemble at Biggar on the 8th of October, 'all boden in feir of weir,’ with twenty days’ provision, ‘under pane of tinsell of lyff, landis, and guddis.’ The author of the ‘ Diurnal of Remarkable Occurents,' in referring to the 8th of October 1565, says:—'Upon the samen day our souranis with thair army depairtit of Edinburgh towart Biggar.’ The equipment of the Queen was decidedly warlike. She rode a stately charger, and had a pair of pistols stuck in holsters at her saddle-bows; and it is said that her scarlet and embroidered riding dress covered a suit of defensive armour, and that under her hood and veil she wore a steel casque, Damley was also gaily mounted, and wore a splendid suit of gilt armour. These royal and illustrious personages were received at Biggar by an enthusiastic host of 18,000 men, all ready to march against the foes of their sovereign, and to fight to the death in defence of her rights and authority. Mary, no doubt, honoured her cousin, Lord Fleming, by taking up her abode in the Castle of Boghall during her brief stay at Biggar. Its old walls would then resound with the enthusiastic shouts that welcomed Scotland’s fair Queen and her husband to repose within its towers and battlements.

Biggar never saw a more gallant array of Scottish chivalry than was, on this occasion, displayed on its adjacent acclivities. Here had assembled a large portion of the nobles, barons, and knights of Scotland, with their retainers, from almost every part of the kingdom. The names of the chief leaders of this army, and the posts which they were to occupy in the different battalions, as given by some of our old historians, are as follows:—The vanguard was led by the right noble and mighty Lord Mathew, Earl of Lennox, Lieutenant in the western parts of the realm, who was supported by the Earls of Cassillis and Eglinton, Lords Semple, Ross, Cathcart, and Sanquhar, the Sheriff of Ayr, the Laird of Garlies, Sir James Hamilton, and other lieges of the Queen, within the Earl of Lennox’s jurisdiction. The rearguard was led by George, Earl of Huntly, John, Earl of Athole, and David, Earl of Crawford; and these noblemen were accompanied by Lords Ruthven, Glamis, Forbes, Drummond, and Innermeth, and the Commendator of Deer, who took the place of his father, the Earl MarischalL The main body was under the command of Lord Darnley, the husband of the Queen, who was supported by the Earls of Morton, Bothwell, and Mar; Lords Fleming, Ogilvie, Livingston, Sommerville, Borthwick, Yester, Lindsay, and Hume, and 4 the haill remnant of ye realme.’*

The Queen was the life and soul of this warlike assemblage. She directed its movements and inflamed its martial ardour. Her youth and beauty won every heart; and her courage in taking the field in person, to imperil her liberty or her life in defence of her rights, no doubt lent strength to every warrior’s arm, and made him resolve to conquer or die in her behalf. The review of her troops on the gently rising grounds of Biggar, therefore, far surpassed in thrilling interest any martial demonstration that has taken place in our country in recent times. It was not a mere holiday display, or a muster for a sham fight. It was not a spectacle got up for amusement, and theatrical effect; but an array of men who had seized their weapons of war, left their homes and usual employments, and taken their place in battle order, ready to be led against their foes, and to engage in deadly combat

The Queen led forth her loyal and devoted warriors from Biggar on the 10th of October, and proceeded by Coulter, Lamington, and Crawford towards Dumfries. The rebel lords fled at her approach, and, crossing the border, took refuge in England. Mary, two days after she left Biggar, entered Dumfries; but finding none in arms to oppose her, she disbanded her army, and with all the eclat of a bloodless victory, returned to her capital by way ,of Moffat, Tweedsmuir, and Peebles.

After the battle of Langside, so disastrous to the claims and power of Mary Stewart, the Regent Murray proceeded to inflict vengeance on the adherents of the unfortunate Queen. His policy was rather' to plunder their estates and overturn their strongholds, than to shed their blood on the scaffold He is consequently described in a history of the time as running in a rage 4 throwe the cuntrie like a wilde boare, depopulatinge the landis of the Queenis faithful subiects, robbing them of ther goodis, and pullinge down ther holds and houses,

*The Ooanoil of war, at whioh the above arrangement was agreed to, made the reservation * that the present ordouring and disposing of the Battellis foersaidis, be nawayis prejudicial! to the Erie of Angus, his titile and interes qnhatsnmever.’ The Earl of Angus had a hereditary right to lead the van of the royal army, but it appeal* that he was not present at Biggar on this ocoaskra. persuinge them with fire and sworde whithersoever he came, and confiscatinge all ther mowables for his owen particular uise.’

One of his first expeditions of this sort was up the Yale of Clyde, and to the southern parts of Scotland. He put out proclamations commanding all men to ryse with fifteen days provisions,’ and appointed the rendezvous to be at Biggar. He set out from Glasgow in the beginning of June with 2000 men in his train, and three pieces of artillery; one of the noblemen who accompanied him being James Douglas, Earl of Morton, and Laird of Edmonston. On his way he took and destroyed the Castles of Hamilton and Draffen, belonging to those zealous partizans of the Queen, the Hamiltons. Herries, in his * Historical Memoirs of the Reign of Mary Queen of Scots,’ states, that the Regent, on his arrival at Biggar, ‘ found four thousand hors and one thousand foote with fyrlocks.’ With this force he plundered and devastated the domains of the supporters of the Queen in the Biggar district, with absolute freedom and impunity.

Lord Fleming was particularly obnoxious to the Regent, both because he was a zealous and indefatigable partisan of the Queen, and especially because he obstinately continued to hold the strong and important fortress of Dumbarton in her interests. He was, of course, absent from Biggar at this time; so the full weight of the Regent’s vengeance fell on his tenants and vassals. We know from a journal of the Regent’s proceedings in Clydesdale, preserved in her Majesty’s State Paper Office, that he laid siege to the Castle of Boghall, and took it, after overcoming some resistance, and most likely demolishing a portion of the buildings. He then led a detachment of his men to Skirling, the domain of Sir J. Cockburn, who, at the time, was a fugitive in England. The Regent, meeting with no opposition, found little difficulty in obtaining possession of the castle of that barony. This stronghold was situated in a morass, which now forms part of the glebe of the parish minister, and was of considerable size and strength. It was principally defended by the morass; but this being somewhat accessible on the south-west, the building in that quarter was protected by strong turrets. The ordinary access was by a causeway and stone bridge. The Regent, being determined to leave behind him a sensible token of his displeasure, caused a large quantity of gunpowder to be deposited in one of the lower apartments, and this being fired, the edifice was immediately reduced to a heap of smoking ruins. It was never rebuilt. The remains of it continued standing till the present century, when they were unfortunately removed by the Rev. Mr M'Alpine, a late incumbent of the parish, during some improvements which he made on the glebe. The ground has now been so much changed by drainage and cultivation, that it is very difficult to discover the spot on which the Castle stood.

Detachments of the Regent’s troops were also sent out to ravage the lands of the other adherents of the Queen in the neighbourhood of Biggar. The tenants of Baillie of Lamington, Baillie of St John’s Kirk, and Chancellor of Shieldhill, were assailed and plundered without mercy. The fortalice of the Chancellors, which at this period stood at the village of Quothquan, was of course attacked and laid in ruins. It was not rebuilt; and when times became more settled under the rule of James VI., the laird erected a habitation on the spot on which the House of Shieldhill still stands. The Regent thus left the Biggar district a scene of suffering and desolation; and the expedition, on this account, received the name of the Raid of Biggar. In the records of Justiciary, we find that on the 4th January 1570-1, James Spens, in Glenduke, William Russell, in Glaslie, and John Dick, elder, in Easter Cartmoir, were 1 delatit for remaning fra the Raids of Lang-syde, Biger,’ etc. The Court deserted the charge against them at that time; but the Judge ordered them to find caution to appear and underlie the law on the 15th of February next. No record has been left to show whether they were ultimately punished or acquitted.

After the execution of Charles I., the Scots proclaimed his son Charles successor to the throne. They despatched Sir William Fleming and other Commissioners to hold an interview with the young Ring at Breda, to invite him to Scotland, and proffer him support, on condition of his accepting and signing the Solemn League and Covenant. Charles by no means relished such terms; but, at the time, seeing no other way of arriving at the throne of England, he came to Scotland and accepted them, but with a secret determination to violate them so soon as circumstances would permit. The Scots, by the support thus tendered to the King, were brought into collision with the Republicans of England. Oliver Cromwell was recalled from Ireland, and despatched to Scotland with a force of 16,000 men, in order to compel the Scots to renounce their adherence to the King, and to submit implicitly to the Commonwealth. The Scots mustered a considerable army to oppose the English general, and would have forced him to leave the country, had not the improper interference of the Presbyterian clergy caused them, in spite of the remonstrances of their commander, General Leslie, to hazard an engagement at Dunbar, on the 8d of September 1650. As might be expected, they were thoroughly defeated. This disaster caused great consternation in the Upper Ward. The brethren of the Biggar Presbytery, as we have elsewhere stated, on the morning of the 5th, two days after the battle, hastened spontaneously to Biggar, and found the whole town in an uproar, 4 be reason of the sad newes of ye defeat of our army.’ They 'called the people together, and offered up supplications to the Almighty, that they might be preserved from the outrages and devastations of war, and that their enemies might be rebuked and scattered. Before dismissing the people, they resolved to meet again next morning, and spend the day in fasting and humiliation, on account of their own sins and the sina of the land, which had so signally evoked the judgments of divine Providence. The Presbytery of Lanark also met on the 5th, and spent the day in devotional exercises, and, at the same time, resolved to set apart the 22d, as a day of fasting and humiliation, in the parishes within their bounds. Accordingly, on that day suitable discourses were delivered, collections were made for defraying the expenses incurred by attendance on the sick and wounded, and ex hortations addressed to all able-bodied men to lose no time in repairing to the camp at Stirling, where the scattered remains of the Scottish army had been gathered together under the banner of the King.

Cromwell lost no time in improving the advantages which he had gained by the victory at Dunbar. He bombarded and took the Castles of Roslin, Tantallon, Hume, Borthwick, Neidpath, and others; and their shattered remains still bear witness to the effects of his destructive assaults. In the end of November he despatched a force of 4000 men, chiefly horsemen, to the Upper Ward, who took possession of the town of Lanark, and committed a series of ravages on the country round. It is supposed that it was this force, or a part of it, that laid siege to the Castle of BoghalL The camp which the soldiers of the Commonwealth are said to have occupied, is situated a few hundred yards to the south-west of the Castle, and though much obliterated by the progress of agricultural improvement, can still be very distinctly traced. It completely commanded the habitable part of the Castle; and as it was no doubt furnished with a battering train, a few shots would serve to show that the walls could not long withstand the effects of a cannonade by heavy ordnance, and that the garrison had no alternative but to surrender. At all events, it seems to be certain that the Royalist troops were expelled, and that the Castle was held for some time by the soldiers of the Commonwealth. These men committed great devastation on the country round The only retaliation inflicted on them, that we have heard of, is recorded by Captain Armstrong in his * Companion to the Map of Tweeddale,’ published during the latter part of last century; but we suspect that his statement rests on no higher authority than tradition. He tells us that a party of sixteen horsemen from Oliver Cromwell’s camp at Biggar, penetrated the hills of Tweeddale. They had reached a place in the parish of Tweedsmuir called Talla or Fala Moss, where they were surprised and made prisoners by Porteous of Hawkshaw, and a party of country people. After some deliberation, it was resolved that the whole of them should be put to death; and the captors at once rushed upon the defenceless soldiers, and plunged their swords in their breasts. One of the soldiers having received only a slight wound, ran several miles; but being overtaken, was cut down with a number of blows. The others were interred at the part of the moss where they had been massacred.

The Scots, although encountering many disasters, still prosecuted the war against Cromwell. They rallied round the standard of Charles at Stirling, and manifested a most resolute determination not to yield to the invader. Cromwell at length set out to prosecute hostilities in Perthshire; and the way to England being thus left open, Charles formed the desperate resolution of marching into England, where he hoped he would be joined by a large number of adherents. He therefore set out on his march, and in a day or two arrived at Biggar. David Leslie, his major-general, summoned the Castle of Boghall to surrender; but the governor, according to Whitlocke, returned a resolute refusal, declaring that he held the Castle for the Commonwealth of England. As the Royalists were anxious to cross the border with all possible haste, they did not halt sufficient time at Biggar to attempt a reduction of the Castle by force. Cromwell followed hard in the track of the royal army, and therefore the likelihood is that he also visited Biggar in person, and took up his quarters for a night in the Castle of Boghall.

No sooner did it become generally known in 1715 that the Earl of Mar had set up the standard of rebellion in the north, than a meeting of Jacobites was held at Edinburgh. At this meeting it was resolved that troops should be raised to join the squadrons expected to be levied in the south of Scotland, and that the rendezvous should be at Biggar. This muster accordingly took place; but the number of troops that assembled at Biggar on this occasion cannot now be ascertained. We know that a troop of horse came from Carnwath, commanded by Philip Lockhart, a brother of the distinguished Sir George Lockhart. This gentleman, who was a captain in the royal army, and, at the time, was on half pay, possessed good natural abilities, which had been cultivated by a liberal education, and was now influenced, by the persuasions of his brother and the movements of the Earl of Mar, to draw his sword in behalf of the Chevalier St George. His brother, in speaking of the Carnwath troop that joined the Jacobite muster at Biggar, says, 'In respect of the goodness of the men, horses, and arms, and being commanded by three brave experienced officers, besides several private men that had served in the army, and whom I prevailed with and engadged at no small charge to enter the service, was reckoned the best troop in the little army.’

The men assembled at Biggar were all cavalry; and, after a short halt, marched to the south to join the Earls of Kenmure, Nithsdale, Win ton, and Derwentwater, Lord Widrington, Thomas Forster, and others, who had levied a number of horsemen in the south of Scotland and the north of England for the service of the Pretender. As they felt unable to make any decided movement from the want of infantry, the Earl of Mar despatched a body of 1400 Highlanders, under the command of M‘Intosh of Borlum, commonly called Brigadier M‘Intosh, to their assistance. These several forces formed a junction at the town of Kelso, and, after some debate, resolved to march into England.

In this resolution the Highlanders obstinately refused to acquiesce. They had an extreme aversion to enter the sister kingdom. They drew up in battle order on the Muir of Hawick, and, cocking their muskets, declared that they would not go into England to be kidnapped and spld as slaves; and that, if they were doomed to destruction, they would prefer to die in their own country. The greater part of them were ultimately prevailed on to cross the border; but 400 of them broke off from their companions, and attempted to regain their native mountains. The people of the country through which they passed hovered about them, captured the stragglers, and prevented them from plundering. Ten of them were taken prisoners by Robert Jar-dine, at a place called Briery Hill, and marched to Dumfries. The rest proceeded in a body by Moffat to Erickstane; and here they divided themselves into two parties, one of them taking the route by Crawford and Douglas, and the other striking through the hills towards Lamington. Two countrymen, who had been watching their movements, knowing the passes of the hills, hastened on before them, and arrived at Lamington about midnight. Baillie of Lamington, who was favourable to the House of Hanover, lost no time in despatching messengers in every direction to summon the well-affected to hasten with all speed to Clydesbridge, above Lamington, to assist in capturing the poor Highlanders. Accordingly, next morning, the 2d of November, a large multitude from the country round assembled at the place of rendezvous, headed by the Lairds of Lamington, Nisbet, Glespen, and Mosscastle, Mr Mitchell, factor to the Laird of Hartree, Mr Campbell of Moat, and, what is not a little surprising, considering that the Earl of Wigton was, at the time, in prison for his Jacobite attachments, Luke Vallange, one of the bailies of Biggar. They were all well armed and accoutred, and having been divided into several companies, they penetrated the hills, and, after a little search, found the poor wanderers, in number about 200, quite worn out with hunger and fatigue. Meeting with little or no resistance, they took them all prisoners, and marched them off to Lamington Kirk, where they were detained all night, and next day were conducted to Lanark, and afterwards to Glasgow. Rae, who recounts this incident, has failed to tell us what was the ultimate fate of these wretched men.

The main body of the insurgents pursued their march into England. At length they reached the town of Preston, and here they were attacked by Generals Willis and Carpenter, and, after a series of desperate encounters, were forced to surrender to superior numbers. Captain Lockhart, and five other officers who held commissions in the regular army, were tried by a court martial, and condemned to be shot. This sentence was carried into execution on all of them, with the exception of Ensign Dalziel, a brother of the Earl of Carnwath, who was found to have resigned his commission previous to his engaging in the rebellion.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Biggar received many visits from royalty. One of the reasons which conduced very much to this, was the celebrity of the shrine of St Ninian at Whithorn. St Ninian, who was the son of a British prince, about the year 370, paid a visit to Rome; and the Pope, finding him well instructed in the mysteries of the Christian faith, and zealous for their promulgation, ordained him as a missionary to the heathen tribes of Britain. On his return, he built a church at Whithorn, which he dedicated to his uncle, St Martin of Tours, and which, being built of stone, was generally known by the title of ‘Candida Casa,’ that is, the White House. St Ninian was interred within its walls, and it continued to be the Cathedral Church of the district for several centuries. Fergus, Lord of Galloway, in the reign of David L, erected near this church, which by that time had fallen into ruins, a priory for monks of the Premonstratensian Order; and gathering together such relics of St Ninian as had been preserved, deposited them in this sacred edifice. From that time down to the Reformation, the memory of St Ninian, and the sanctity and efficacy of his supposed relics, were held in the highest estimation. All ranks, from the King to the beggar, made pilgrimages to Whithorn, and paid their devotions at its shrine.

In the summer of 1473, Margaret, the Queen of James HI., made a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Ninian, attended by six ladies of her bedchamber, who were attired in new dresses for the journey. They no doubt passed through Biggar, and lodged in the Castle of Boghall, as Biggar lay on the direct road to Whithorn from the Royal Palaces of Edinburgh, Linlithgow, Stirling, and Falkland. The monarch who made the most frequent pilgrimages to this shrine was James IV. Although James was one of the most gallant and courageous men that ever lived, he was deeply tinctured with the superstitious notions of the times. He had strong compunctions regarding the part which he had taken in the movement that led to his father’s death; and, in token of his penitence, wore an iron belt, to which he added a link yearly; and the priests of the Chapel Royal, both at matins and vespers, made daily lamentation in his presence for his having been ‘counsalled to cum againes his father in battell.' Once, and sometimes twice, every year, the King repaired to St Ninian’s shrine to pour out his sorrows, and pray for strength and consolation. On these occasions he was attended by a considerable retinue, and particularly, as he was fond of music, by a number of minstrels. It was, besides, always the practice of the local musicians to turn out and entertain the King with their minstrelsy, on passing through their villages and towns. In the accounts of the Treasurer of the Royal Household, we find, that James, during these pilgrimages, disbursed considerable sums to pipers, fiddlers, and luters, and also to taletellers, priests, and poor men. For instance, in 1502, on passing through Wigton, he gave 14s. to the pipers of that town for playing during his progress. On the 24th of February 1503, there is the following entry in the Treasurer's books, viz.:—‘Item, That samyn nycht, in Bigar, to ane piper and ane fithelar, be the King’s command, xiijs.’ On the 10th of February 1505-6, Margaret Tudor, his Queen, bore a son and heir to the Scottish throne, and her life having been placed in extreme peril, her royal spouse set off as usual on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Ninian, to pray for her recovery. He walked the whole way on foot, and was accompanied by four Italian minstrels, who, being unable to bear the same amount of fatigue as the robust and spirited monarch, completely broke down, and had to be borne forward on horseback. It would be a rare sight for the people of Biggar to see the King, with his staff in his hand, marching on foot, while his foreign minstrels were mounted on horses, like so many noblemen. When James arrived at the shrine, he prayed most powerfully; and it was noted that the Queen began to recover at the exact time at which he was engaged in this pious work. So soon as the Queen was able to go abroad, a pilgrimage on a grand scale to the shrine of a saint so propitious and influential was resolved on. This took place in July 1507. The Queen, being still weak, was borne on a litter, the wardrobe and baggage of the King were carried by three horses, and the paraphernalia of the Queen required no fewer than seventeen. Another horse was laden with 1 the King’s chapel geir,’ and the ‘chapel graith’ of the Queen was borne along in two coffers. They were attended by a large retinue, and occupied nearly a month in the journey to and from the shrine.

James V. also made several pilgrimages to Whithorn, particularly in the years 1532 and 1533. According to the statements of the author of the ‘Memoire of the Sommervilles,’ James also paid frequent visits to the Upper Ward, with the view of visiting Catherine Carmichael, a daughter of the Captain of Crawford, of whom he became enamoured by seeing her in Cowthally Castle, at the marriage of the eldest daughter of Hugh, Lord Sommerville, to the Laird of Cookpool in Annandale. As his sister Joan, or Janet, was married to Malcolm, Lord Fleming, it is natural to suppose that he was no unfrequent guest at the Castle of BoghalL The Bannatyne Club, in 1836, published a work, entitled ‘Excerpta e libris Domicilii Domini Jacobi Quinti, regis Scotorum,’ from 1528 to 1533, consisting of a statement of his household expenses at various places which he visited, written in a sort of Frenchified Latin. It is extremely curious, and interesting, as it not only shows the various kinds of viands with which the royal table was supplied, and the prices at which they were purchased, but also the different journeys which he undertook, and the places at which he occasionally resided. Although Biggar is not mentioned in this book, yet it is easy to infer that, in passing from Peebles to the Upper Ward, be would take the Castle of Boghall in his way, and receive entertainment from Lord and Lady Fleming. At Peebles and Lanark lie had everything to buy, and hence we have in the book referred to, long lists of articles furnished at these towns for breakfast, dinner, and supper, consisting of bread, ale, mutton, salmon, soles, turbot, skate, pike, trouts, chickens, capons, rabbits, woodcocks, redshanks, plovers, butter, cheese, onions, pears, apples, mustard, not forgetting occasionally the favourite Scotch dish of capita ariehm et pedes otatim, that is, sheep's heads and trotters; but at the Cattle of Boghall, as well as at the Castle of Cowthally, he would get the best of these viands without any expense, and hence the Master of the Household would be under no necessity of making any entry in Ids books of the dishes with which he was there entertained.

Biggar appears to have been honoured by several visits from James VI. From a despatch, preserved in her Majesty’s State Paper Office, from George Nicholson to Mr Bowes, we know that this monarch, in the month of January 1595, was fiving at Biggar, and no doubt in the Cattle of Boghali His object, we are told, was to enjoy the sport of hawking. The Biggar district was, ao doubt, at that period plentifully stocked with various kinds of wild fowl. We know that the marshy grounds, and the banks of the Clyde and the Tweed, abounded with herons, which afforded excellent sport to the falconer, and, in all likelihood, greatly attracted the attention of the royal huntsman. The most famous heronry in the neighbourhood in olden times, was in an old orchard at Dawick, where the herons, by carrying trouts and eels to their nests, furnished the strange spectacle of fish, flesh, and fruit, on the same tree. The sojourn of James and his court in the Cattle would create some stir and excitement in the little town. Messengers of State would be constantly coming and going; the servants of the household would be frequenting the shops, and purveying for the royal table; and the inhabitants would be on the alert to witness the movements of the Kang, and to give him a joyous welcome as often as he appeared. We can fancy the sapient monarch, mounted on a stately 'charger, surrounded by some of his nobility, •and followed by a goodly train of falconers and other retainers, issuing from the spacious gate of the Castle, proceeding along the broad avenue that led to the highway, -and then, amid the defiles of the Tweeddale mountains, or on the gentle ridges of the Common, the Lindsaylands, or the Shields, participating in the exhilarating pastime of the chase as then pursued. It will be long, we fear, before another monarch courses a maukin or brings down a muir cock in the same district.


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