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The History of Brechin to 1864
Chapter II. The History of Brechin from 1260 TO 1560


Hitherto we have been dealing chiefly with romance and conjecture, and little that we have said is absolutely certain, except that Brechin was the seat of a bishop in the reign of David I. previous to 1153. Perhaps the world might have moved on in its usual course although this important fact had not been so distinctly established as it certainly is. Connected thus early and thus closely with the Church, Brechin seems to have derived its chief importance and support, for long after, from the same source. We have made up a list of the bishops of Brechin, and have collated the list with various histories and other documents; but as it is a record chiefly of dates and names, we think it better to throw it into a section by itself, than to interrupt the flow of events by discussions here on the subject of the succession of these dignitaries, and accordingly it will be found in our Appendix, No. II.

Amongst the earliest grants to the Church of Brechin extant, is a charter, without date, but believed to have been given about the year 1222, granted by Randolph “ de Strathphetham,” supposed to be equivalent with Strachan, of the lands of Brectulach, understood to be Brachtullo in the parish of Kirkden, “pro anima mea et animabus omnium antecessorum meorum.” The chapel of “ Messyndew,” still so pronounced, but now written Maisondieu, was founded by “ Willelmus de Brechine, fllius Domini Henrici de Brechine fllij Comitis David,” that is, by William of Brechin, the son of Lord Henry of Brechin, who was the son of Earl David; hence the chapel was founded by Sir William of Brechin, grandson of David Earl of Huntingdon and Garioch,


INTERIOR VIEW.

Lord of Brechin and Inverbervie, and brother of King William the Lion. The charter, which is witnessed by Albin, who was Bishop of Brechin from 1247 to 1269, is understood to have been granted about 1256. By it William de Brechin gave the mills of Brechin and other lands to God and the Chapel of the Virgin Mary, by him founded, and to the master and chapter and poor of the same, and that, as the charter bears, for prayers for the safety or good estate of William and Alexander, kings of Scotland; “Dominis Johannis Comitis Cestrie;” of Lord Henry his father, and Lady Juliana his mother; and of his own soul; and of the souls of all his predecessors and successors and of all the dead in the faith; a sufficiently long but not uncommon catalogue in those days of parties to be remembered in prayer. In 1267, William again gives a fight of a road to his favourite chapel, and the charter says the grant is made to God and the blessed Virgin, “et Domui Dei de Brechine.” A precept of sasine of Easter Dalgety in the charter-room of Kin-naird, granted in 1549, is thus styled on the back,—“Factum per Dominum Wuillielmum Carnegie de Messindew, Roberto de Kennaird,” while in the body of the deed Mr Carnegy is styled “ Preceptor Domus Dei sive Hospitalis dive Virginis Marie infra Civitatem Brechinensem; ” thus showing the identity of the hospital o! the Virgin Maty and the preceptory of Maisondieu. William de Brechin was one of the regency favourable to England appointed during the minority of Alexander III., as mentioned in Rymer, Fcedera, i. 563. Robert L seems to have been a great friend to the church of Brechin. In 1308 he prohibits the people of Forfar from interfering with the bishop and canons of Brechin; and two years .after, by a charter dated at Brechin 4th December, in the fourth year of his reign, he relieves the church of Brechin of all secular services. The same King Robert, by a charter dated at Scone, 10th July 1322, in the sixteenth year of his reign, gave to John, Bishop of Brechin, and to the chaplain and canons of the cathedral church of the Holy Trinity of Brechin, the privilege of haring a market within the city on Sundays, the same as had been formerly conferred upon them by the former kings of Scotland,.and as had been possessed by them in the time of Alexander “ of good memory,” his predecessor; and to that effect Robert commanded all justiciaries, sheriffs, provosts, and their bailies to defend the bishop therein. This John was of the family of Kinnymond of Fife, and appears to have been a decided friend of King Robert Bruce; for in 1309, he is one of the bishops who solemnly under their seals recognise Robert's title to the throne of Scotland. The revenues of the see at this time were 416, equal to 2000 at least of the present day. Bishop William, who was in the see previous to John, was a man of a different stamp, for he was one of the few Scots clergy who, in 1290, addressed Edward I. of England, entreating that monarch to marry his son to Margaret, “the Maiden of Norway,” heiress of the crown of Scotland. It is comfortable to reflect, however, that if at this period there was a servile bishop, William, of whom little more is known than the circumstance just noted, there was also one generous spirit connected with the burgh, the noble and independent Sir Thomas Maule, governor of Brechin Castle, whose name is immortalised by the check he gave to the troops of Edward, and by his gallant defence of the castle for three weeks in 1303. Against this castle Edward brought a then famous engine of attack called the War Wolf, which discharged stones of two or three hundredweight. Sir Thomas Maule is reported to have stood on the walls of Brechin Castle wiping away with his handkerchief, in derision of the besiegers, the rubbish caused by the War Wolf, till the engine swept him away. Tradition has it that Sir Thomas was slain on the bastion still existing at the south-east comer of the castle wall, and that the stone which killed him was thrown from the high ground to the east of the ravine running between the castle and the town of Brechin. Some years ago, when the earth was tirred from the garden on the top of the bank alluded to, a skull was found buried, having a nail in it, supposed to have been one of Edward's soldiers, killed by some instrument fired from Brechin Castle—for gunpowder was partially in use by this time. Perhaps it is to Edward’s invasion of Scotland that we are to attribute the want of documents connected with the earlier history of Brechin, and the necessity for King Robert renewing the right of market; for Buchanan tells us, so inveterate was Edwards hatred to Scotland, that when he returned to England after this invasion, “histories, foedera, monumentaque vetusta, sive a Romanis relicta, sive a Scotis erecta, destruenda curavit; libros omnes, literarumque doctores, in Angliam transtulit” Edward is said to have come to Brechin on the 6th, and to have obtained from Baliol the surrender of the Scottish crown and kingdom at Brechin on the 10th July 1296, in a very humiliating manner, in the castle of Brechin, where the Great Seal of Scotland was broken to pieces. Sir David de Brechin, nephew of King Robert the Bruce, an accomplished knight, and who had signalised himself in the Holy War, suffered the punishment of treason in 1320, in consequence of having joined William de Soulis and others in a treasonable conspiracy against King Robert Sir David appears to have long tampered with King Edward 1. of England, and to have been opposed through life to Bruce's pretensions, although often receiving pardon and favour from the king his uncle. Tet on 10th March 1354. King David, son of Robert Bruce, grants to “Alexander de Berkeley et Catarine sorori mee spouse sue," the lands of Wester Mathers, by a charter quoted in the Miscellany of the Spalding Club, vol. v. p. 248; thus showing the reconciliation of the families of Bruce and Berkeley.

The induction of Bishop Adam into the see of Brechin in 1328 displays the grasping spirit of the Church of Rome. There is a bull by Pope John, dated 31st Oct of that year, printed by Mr Chalmers in his Register, vol. iL p. 389, apparently confirming Bishop Adam in the see, but- ia reality claiming the right to nominate the bishop, and the same Pope by subsequent documents claims the same right in regard to the canons. Pope Clement VI., following up the tactics of Pope John, by a bull dated 20th Feb. 1350, states that he had reserved for his own disposal the provision to the church of Brechin on the decease of Bishop Adam, but that in ignorance of this reservation the chapter had unanimously elected Philip, dean of the church, to be bishop; and that Philip, in like ignorance, had consented to the election, but on being informed of the reservation had come to Rome and explained the matter, and therefore the Pope had of new appointed him to the office. Previously, in 1320, Robert Bruce, in a Parliament held at Arbroath, had asserted the freedom of Scotland in opposition to the claims of Popedom. Theiner, in his “Vetera Monumenta Hibernorum et Scotorum,” gives, p. 306, a bull by Pope Innocent VI., in 1354, dispensing with the objection to the marriage of John Mongombry and Elen More because they were cousins; and p. 312, another bull by the same Pope dispensing with a similar objection to the marriage of David de Berclay and Elizabeth Countess of Fife, both bulls being addressed to the Bishop of Brechin.

The privilege of market renewed by Robert L was confirmed by David II., who, on 26th October 1359, was pleased to grant a charter stating that “for the fear and reverence of God, by whom kings reign and princes govern,” and in respect of the troubles and dissensions throughout the kingdom, by which the monuments of the church had been lost, therefore he confirmed to the cathedral church of Brechin the whole privileges formerly granted by his ancestors, and especially by his father, to the cathedral church of the Holy Trinity of Brechin. The bishop of this period was Patrick de Leuchars in Fife, a favourite at court, and one of those who took an active part in the redemption of David from the English. Still the right of market, thus guaranteed by repeated royal grants, seems to have been disputed from some quarter or other—by Montrose, we believe, for we find “Ane Inchibitioun for halding off mercats of StapiUhand at Brechine and Fordoune ” to the prejudice of Montrose, issued by King David II. in 1352. However, there is a “cognition” taken regarding the Brechin market in 1364 by Walter de Biggar, chamberlain of Scotland, John de Rossy, John Lamby, David de Foulertoun, John de Allardice, and other gentlemen; and thereafter we find David, in 1369, giving a new charter to Bishop Patrick, stating that the whole merchants inhabiting the city of Brechin had free ingress and egress to the waters of Southesk and Tay for carrying of their merchandise in boats and ships, upon paying duties accustomed, and that notwithstanding of any grants to the burgesses of Dundee and Montrose, who are strictly prohibited from troubling the merchants of Brechin. This grant was confirmed by Robert II. in 1372; and the same prince, in 1374, addressed a precept to his justiciaries, sheriffs, and provosts, charging them to defend the Bishop of Brechin and the canons of the cathedral church of Brechin in all their lands and privileges. James II., by a charter dated in September 1451, again renews at great length the rights of trade granted to Brechin; but Dundee, alarmed at the growing importance of Brechin, enters a protest against this and the previous charters, “purchased of false suggestion by information of partial persons/' as a document quoted by Mr Chalmers proves.

The earls of Crawford were great benefactors to the church of Brechin in the fifteenth century; and some grants or charters are still preserved having the arms of that family attached, impressed in a bold and handsome style. The members of the family of Dun appear also to have been zealous supporters of the cathedral. The church having acquired right to the lands of Eaglesjohn for payment of certain quit rents to Sir John Erskine of Dun, that knight, in 1409, mortified these rents to the bishop, from reverence to the Holy Trinity, and from the more secular feeling of affection to Walter,, then bishop of Brechin. The lands thus conveyed to the church in 1409 are at present called Langleypark and Broomley, the latter now again belonging to the laird of Dun. The Duke of Albany, while governor of Scotland inr 1410, granted a precept to Alexander Ogilvy of Ouchterhouse, Sheriff of Forfar, for examining into the marches of certain lands belonging to the bishop; and thereupon the sheriff gives a decree in favour of the bishop addressed “tyll all yat yir letters heirs and seis,” “gretyng in God aye lestand,” and stating that “Walter, throu Goddis sufferance Bischope of Brechin, fand ane borch in our hand as schref,” which the lairds of Kinnaird “ recontret.” There is still extant amongst the papers of the burgh a curious precept by James I., in 1427, by which, for the growth of grace, and various other ostensible reasons, he grants different sums to the cathedral, payable out of hi6 annual rents of the city of Brechin; and amongst the individuals from whose lands these sums are payable, we find the names of William White, Bichard Lindesay, possessor of the “Forkit Akir,” David Garden, John Durward, LaurenceSmith, John Guthrie, proprietorof certain lands between the two vennels; John Tindall, James Myres, James Potter, John Saddler, and John Walker, names still common in Brechin. But the chief friend to the church of Brechin at this early period, was Sir Walter Stewart, Knight, Palatine of Strathearn, Earl of Athole and Caithness, and Lord of Brechin and Cortachy, which latter title and property he assumed, together with the lands of Brechin and Navar, &c., on marrying the heiress, Margaret, only child of Barclay, Lord of Brechin. On 22d October 1429, by charter dated “ apud Castrum nostrum de Brechynhe gifted 40 Scots, payable annually, to the church from his lands of Cortachy, and failing thereof through war, poverty, or other cause, from his lands and lordship of Brechin, for the maintenance of two chaplains and six boys to perform divine service within the choir of the church. He also in the same month bestowed the patronage of the church of Cortachy on the cathedral; and, further, he gave a piece of land lying on the west side of the city of Brechin, adjoining to the Vennel, for the residence of the boys and chaplains. In these grants, and in a relative obligation by the bishop, there are long directions about the clothing of the boys, and in regard to their education and demeanour. In particular, the lads are prohibited from going to the fields without one of the chaplains, and they are ordered, on these occasions, to be clothed in open coats, purple or white, and to have their hair neatly dressed. In regard to the chaplains, again, it is provided that one of them shall be instructed in music and the other in grammar, which branches of education they are to study in the hours when they are free from spiritual duties. It is curious to find the bishop, so early as 1435, backing out of his part of the obligation, and upon various pretences reducing the two chaplains to one, and of course reducing the duties to be performed; and the duties thus reduced seem to have been but indifferently attended to, for, in 1524, there is a decree of the bishop of that period deciding various differences which had arisen between the chaplains and the chapter of the cathedral for non-performance of duties. It is no less curious to remark, that Walter, Earl of Athole, who made these liberal grants to the cathedral of Brechin, was the son of Robert II. by Euphemia, daughter of Hugh, Earl of Ross, and was suspected, from a desire to ascend the throne, of having been the means of procuring the deaths of most of his own relations. Ultimately, he was himself put to death by lingering tortures protracted for three days, in consequence of being the . principal instigator of the murder of his nephew, the courtly James I.

The bishop who was so particular about the exterior and interior of the heads of the chaplains and of the boyB, was a John Camoth, a gentleman and a courtier, for he was selected to accompany Margaret, daughter of James I., to France, when she was espoused to the Dauphin, afterwards Louis XI, In the chronicle of the reign of James II. kept at Auchinleck, there is an entry bearing that John Crenok, Bishop of Brechin, died there in August 1456, “that was callit a gude, actif, and vertuis man, and all his tyme wele gouvemande.” Apparently this bishop had gone 'more than once to France, for amongst the records of Brechin there is an instrument bearing that Bishop John, in a synod held on 14th April 1434, narrated that in his last voyage from France, probably a stormy one, he had vowed to give to the church of Brechin two silver candlesticks, in acquittance of which vow he then delivered to John Liall the treasurer of the church six silver cups, gilt on the edges, and also a silver gilt cup with cover, the cover having the rays of the sun engraved upon it, this last cup to be for the exclusive use of the dean and canons at their common festivals. Judging from the documents left, we would say that there was more business done during the reign of this bishop than during that of any other bishop. He it was who, in July 1450, obtained an inquisition by which it was ascertained that the inhabitants of Brechin had a right of market on Sundays, and liberty of trading between the waters of Southesk and Tay. Amongst a variety of other grants obtained by this bishop to the church, we may notice that by Alexander Cramond, laird of South Melgund and Aldbar, of an annual rent of 26, 8s. Scots, payable from a tenement called Lammyslande; a similar grant by John Sievwright, citizen of Brechin, and a conveyance to the cathedral by Robert Hill of a tenement lying near to that of John Tod, and an acre of arable land in the Crofts adjoining the land of Patrick Guthrie and John Masson. We may also refer to a charter by Mr Thomas Bell, vicar of the parish church of Montrose, of some property in Murray Street of Montrose, witnessed on 20th June 1431 by Patrick Barclay, then provost of Montrose, and John Niddry, bailie, names still to be found amongst the municipal rulers of that burgh.

Besides acquiring property for the church, bishop Carnoth seems to have acquired property for himself. Thus on 13th February 1444, David Conan conveys to the bishop the Temple-hill of Keithock, to be held of the master of the hospital of St John of Jerusalem, for payment of a yearly feu at two terms, Pentecost and St John in summer; and this property is ratified to the bishop in 1450 by brother Henry de Livingston, a knight of the order of St John of Jerusalem, commendator of the preceptory of the same, and “Magister de Torfechyn.” If we mistake not, these lands are now known as the Templehill of Bothers, and form part of the estate of Caimbank.

A dispute appears to have arisen during this bishop’s reign which may afford evidence for fixing the period when either the steeple or the round tower of Brechin was erected. Mr David Ogilvy, rector of the parish church of Lethnot, having failed to pay a sum of 28 merks, said to have been due from the income of the church of Lethnot to the bishop and chapter of Brechin, was repeatedly cited to appear before the consistorial court He treated the summonses very lightly, and neglected to appear; but a court was held by Robert Wyschart, rector of Cuykstoun, in the diocese of St Andrews, as substitute of the bishop, at Brechin, on the 9th of February 1435, when, after the examination of a variety of witnesses named, it is recorded as having been proved that Lethnot was liable in 28 merks annually to the church of Brechin; and that in part payment of this debt, Henry de Lechton, vicar of Lethnot, had delivered to Patrick, Bishop of Brechin, (1354-84,) a large white horse, and had also given a cart to lead stones for the building of the belfry of the church of Brechin in the time of Bishop Patrick, and which cart was made by Elisha Wright, then residing at Finhaven. These are the words of the decree:—“Quarto, Ponit et probare intendit quod quondam nobilis vir Henricus de Lechton arrendator dicte ecclesie pater Johannis de Lychton soluit et cum effectu realiter deliberauit renerendo patri domino Patricio episcopo Brechinensi et capitnlo eiusdem unum magnum equum album in partem solutionis dicte pensionis. Quinto, Quod idem Henricus de Lechton ad ducendum lapides ad edificationem campanilis ecclesie Brechi-nensis tempore quondam domini Patricii episcopi Brechinensis realiter et cum effectu dedit unum currum quem fecit Elisius Wrycht tunc commorans apud Fynnewyn super le bank de Lymyny in partem solutionis dicte pensionis.”—R. E. B., voL i. page 74.

During Bishop Caraoth’s reign, and on 28th May 1445, King James II. gave to John Smyth, citizen of Brechin, the hermitage of the Chapel of the Blessed Mary in the forest of Kilgerre, lying in the barony of Menmure, with three acres of arable land which had formerly belonged heritably to Hugh Cuminche. This hermitage is understood to have been somewhere on the south face of the hill of Caterthun, and the prayers which the hermit was bound to offer for the king and the other duties of the office likely had not been severe.

Bishop Carnoth himself seems to have been a builder, but to what extent we cannot say, only we find, in 1579, a grant by the then bishop of a piece of ground “ tending along by the wall and street onward to the gate of the tower called Carnock's Tower,1' being, as the document leads us to infer, the gate or entry now called the Bishop’s Close, on the west side of the High Street.

The reign of this bishop, good and worthy as he is reported, appears to have been rather stormy, for, in 1439, we have an instrument bearing that Mr Thomas Lang, chaplain of the choir, protested against the bishop’s bailie for having given possession to William Foote of a tenement on the west side of the High Street, belonging to the chaplains, and asked if, by securing the tenement and putting out the fires thereof he could interrupt the possession ; and upon these threats he takes instruments in presence of Alexander Fotheringham, John Forrest, Walter de Craig, and a variety of others. Again, there is a protest in 1439 by the bishop against certain convocations alleged to have been improperly held in his absence, in one of which it is said the chaplain had been removed from the prebend’s stall in the church of Lethnot, and a boy put into the chaplain’s place. There are also a variety of documents bearing upon a claim which this bishop had, or pretended to have, upon the lands of Marytown, occupied by William Fullarton. In this dispute, Janet Ogilvy, widow of Fullarton, just does as the bishop bids her; but her son Patrick takes a different course. While in August 1448 the bishop is engaged in a dispute with his dean and archdeacon about taxes that ought to have been recovered from the canons for repairs of the choir.

Besides being thus actively engaged, Bishop Camoth procured transumpts or authentic copies of all the royal grants in favour of the town and cathedral, and obtained ratifications of them by James II., on 1st September 1451, a most important document for the burgh. Indeed, the only thing this active man left doubtful is his own surname, which is variously spelled Carnock, Crenok, Carnoth, Crennach, Crannoch, and Crenuch, now commonly said to be equivalent with the surname of Charteris. But the history of the incumbency of this bishop would be incomplete did we not notice that, during his reign, the boundaries of the muir of Brechin were first ascertained. By the bishop's influence, James II. was induced to direct a precept to the sheriff of Forfarshire for the purpose of ascertaining the marches between the lands of Menmuir, belonging to John de Collace, and those belonging to the church. The sheriff accordingly chose an assize, consisting of Sir John Scrymgeour, constable of Dundee, Richard Lovell of Ballumby, William Lyell of Balna-gerro, Patrick Rind and James Rind of Carse, Robert Fuler-toun, Henry Fethy of Balyesok, John Carnegy of that Ilk, Walter Carnegy of Guthere, William Guthere of Lownan, Walter Carnegy of Kynnarde, David Walterstoun of that Ilk, and Thomas Lamby; and this inquest report, on 13th October 1450, that the town’s property began at the east at Threip-haughford in Cruik, extended towards the west, according to the ancient course of the water of Cruik, by the lands of “ Bal-zordy,” and went as far west as the lands belonging to John de Colless of Balnamoon went The inquest also state that they had caused make a large ditch as a fence between the lands of Balyeordie and of the burgh, and that right upon the water of Cruik they had placed a cross with a large stone under it as a march. John Collace, however, does not seem to have tamely submitted to this marching of the lands, for, in May 1451, we have an instrument bearing that John, Bishop of Brechin, and Walter de Ogilvy, Sheriff of Forfar, compeared upon the water of Cruock at the Threiphaughford, and protested for remeid of law in consequence of the march stones having been removed from the situations in which they were placed, and thrown into the water. And in 1458 there is a precept by James II. directed to the Sheriff of Forfar charging him to command Thome of Cullaiss to abstain from annoying the community of Brechin in the possession of the lands decreed to them by the perambulation. This document directs the sheriff to “summonde and charge ye foresaid Thomas to compeir before ws and our coun-saile at Dundee ye secund day of ye next justice aire of Anguss;” so Dundee had been the site of a circuit court previous to the recent Act of Parliament for the holding of courts there. Notwithstanding of all this, however, the family of Collace and the inhabitants of Brechin, as the records of justiciary prove, had battlings till the Collaces sold their lands to Sir Alexander Carnegy, brother of the first earls of Southesk and North-esk, in 1632. This Thomas Collace was a favourite at court, for on 23d March 1499 he got a charter from James IV. confirming to him a right of vert and venison in the forest of Kilgarry.

It was during the Episcopal reign of Bishop Carnoth that the battle of Brechin, as it is called, was fought at Huntlyhill, in the parish of Stracathro, about three miles north-east of the city. The historical reader will recollect that the Earl of Douglas was murdered by James II. in Stirling Castle, in February 1452, because he refused to break a league which he had formed with the earls of Crawford and Boss. In consequence these noblemen joined the Douglases in open rebellion to the royal authority. Alexander Gordon, Earl of Huntly, was advancing with a body of troops consisting of his own vassals, and of the clans Forbes, Ogilvy, Leslie, Grant, and Irving, with the intention of joining the royal standard, when he was encountered, on 18th May 1452, at the Hair Cairn, near Caimbank, by the Earl of Crawford, surnamed “The Tiger,” from his fierce temper, and “Earl Beardie,” from his immense hirsute appendage. Crawford was in command of the “ bodies of Angus,” and of the adherents of the rebels in the neighbouring counties, headed by foreign officers. An engagement ensued, and. the centre of the royal army began to give way, when John Coless or Collace of Balna-moon, who bearded the bishop about the marches of the muir, and who hated Crawford in consequence of some dispute regarding property, deserted to the royalists with the left wing, which he commanded, and which was the best equipped part of the troops, being armed with battle-axes, broadswords and spears. The royal army being thus enforced, and the rebel party so weakened, Huntly, contrary to expectations, gained the victory, and gave his name to the hill where the battle was fought. The Earl of Crawford retired to his castle at Finhaven, about six miles west of Brechin, and is reported to have declared, in the frenzy of disgrace, that he would willingly pass seven years in hell to obtain the glory which fell that day to his antagonist, or as tradition has it, “that he wad be content to hang seven years in hell by the breers o' the ee ”—the eyelashes. After his defeat Crawford turned his vengeance from the royalists towards those who had deserted him, wasting their lands and burning their castles, and he was left at liberty to do so, as Huntly was obliged, immediately after the battle, to return home to protect his own lands from the ravages of the Earl of Moray. In 1562, we notice that David Fenton of Ogill sold to Robert Collace of Balnamoon, and Elizabeth Bruce his spouse, the lands of Findoury, which lands they transferred in 1574 to Robert Arbuthnott. Balnamoon and Findoury are once again united under one worthy proprietor in the person of James Carnegy Arbuthnott, Esq. In March 1625, we find John Collace, fiar of Balnamoon, witnessing a charter by David Ramsay, younger of Balmain, to John Moncur of Slains, of the lands of Cossins and others in the barony of Mondynes and parish of Fordoun, while between that date and the period of the battle of Brechin, the name of Collace occurs frequently in connexion with properties in the town and neighbourhood of Brechin, but of the traitor John Collace himself we have no further notice. Of Crawford, again, we are told by Buchanan that soon after the battle of Brechin he took the opportunity of the king passing through Angus to submit himself to the royal authority, and to make his peace with King James, to whom he remained firmly attached for the remainder of his life, which was of but short duration, for he died in 1453. The succeeding Lord, David Earl of Crawford, seems to have been a man anxious to be on good terms with the church, for, in the year 1472, he burdened his lands of Drumcairn, “lying in his lordship of Glenesk,” with 3 annually to the cathedral of Brechin.

The stormy reign of James II. did not prevent peculation in the church: at least a precept by James III. in 1463, states plainly that through the profligacy of the bishops and canons of Brechin, the revenues of the cathedral had been greatly reduced by frequent alienations of its property, so that it was then suffering under great deficiency of its resources, and therefore his Majesty exhorts the bishop (then Patrick Graham, cousin of the king) to revoke the whole of such alienations as were made without just cause, and his Majesty orders all judges to assist the bishop in the recovery of the property, whether lands, movable goods, or effects. This precept was not allowed to remain a dead letter. In 1464 a decree of the Lords of Council and Session was issued, decerning Walter Dempster of Ochter-less to reconvey to the church the lands of Ardoch, Adicate, Bothers, and Nether Pitforthie, alleged to have been surreptitiously obtained by him; and Dempster, in 1468, implements the decree by resigning the lands to the bishop “ upon his bended knees, and having his hatids closed and within those of the bishop/’ Other documents import that Mr Dempster, being reconciled to mother church, got back his lands for payment of an annual feu to the cathedral. The family to which this gentleman belonged took their surname from the fact of having been appointed by Robert II. to the office of heritable Dempsters to the Parliaments, or readers of the doom or sentence pronounced against criminals in the courts of the kingdom. Patrick Graham was afterwards translated from Brechin to St Andrews, and died archbishop in 1479—a prisoner in the castle of Loch-leven, broken-hearted by court intrigues, although a man of strict morals and considerable learning. Previous to his removal from Brechin, however, he had the influence to obtain from King James III. a charter, dated at Linlithgow 29th June 1466, changing the weekly market day from Sunday to Monday, and of new conferring upon the bailies and citizens of Brechin all their former privileges. The same monarch, shortly before his decease in 1488, granted a charter in favour of the bailies and community of the city of Brechin, by which, in respect of the income of the city being small, and of the faithful services of their predecessors rendered to the king in times of trouble, he gives and confirms to them the right of levying for every horse-load of goods brought to the town, “unum oblum,” or obolus, which originally was a small Athenian coin of silver weighing about twelve grains, worth three halfpence at the ordinary price of silver in the present day, but in the fifteenth century of much more value, and the charter authorises the magistrates to employ one or more officers to collect the tax. This charter was produced by the town clerk as a witness before the House of Peers in 1853 in the case regarding the original dukedom of Montrose, and is, with the clerk’s evidence, printed in the folio volume published by Lord Lindsay on that case, (page 404-6;) the charter is also printed by Mr Chalmers in his “Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis,” vol. ii. page 122. We thus refer particularly to the charter as it is a most important one for the burgh.

James Stewart, second son of James III., was at his birth created Duke of Ross, Marquis of Ormond, Earl of Edirdale, and provided with the lands and lordships of Brechin, Navar, Ardmanach, and Nithsdale. In 1497 he was made archbishop of St Andrews. With Brechin he appears to have had no connexion further than in drawing revenue from it.

The register of the burgh of Aberdeen gives the taxation laid on the burghs beyond the Forth by the commissioners of the burghs in the Parliament held at Edinburgh in 1483, when we find the Angus burghs rated thus:—“ Dundee, 26, 13s. 4d.; Forfar, 1, 6s. 8d. ; Montrose, 5, 6s. 8d.; Arbroath, 2; Breching. 4.” Aberdeen is then rated the same as Dundee.

The year 1481 was one of those years of so frequent occurrence in the fifteenth century, when poverty perished, and even riches scarce supported itself; it was a “dear year”—and Brechin, like other burghs, suffered severely.

We cannot tell whether it was the grant of right of custom given by James III., or what it was, that involved our citizens of Brechin in a dispute with the burgesses of Montrose, but we find, in 1508, that there was a contest between the two towns regarding the market, and that the Bishop of Brechin, then William Meldrum, granted authority for defending the interests of the city of Brechin, and of the church of Brechin, in an action raised before the Lords of Council and Session at the instance of the aldermen, bailies, and burgesses of Montrose, against the citizens of Brechin, for vexations and hindrances alleged to have been given to the community of Montrose in their use of the market of Brechin. How this dispute terminated, or whether it is still in court, we do not know.

In the charter chest of Viscount Arbuthnot, there is a discharge by this Bishop Meldrum “of the teind-penny for James Arbuthnott's waird and marriage,” dated the “penult Maij 1511;” owning receipt of 35 merks, “gude and usual money of Scotland/' of composition for what would now, at least, be thought a strange demand; and amongst the documents belonging to the burgh of Brechin there is an instrument dated in 1508, bearing that John Carnegy of Kinnaird had delivered a horse, “grosij coloris,” as the Herzdd of the late John Carnegy his father for the lands of Little Carcary, held of the Cathedral of Brechin. “Herrezelda” (says Skene, in his “ De Verborum Significatione') “ is the best aucht ox, kow, or uther beast, quhilk ane husbandman possessor of the aucht pairt of ane dauacb of land, (four oxen gang,) dwelland and deceasand theirupon, hes in his possession the time of his decease, quhilk oucht and suld be given to his landislord or maister of the said land.” Probably this language of Sir John Skene of 1681, our readers may think requires interpretation itself. The substance of all this however is, that Bishop Meldrum looked carefully after all the property belonging to the see of Brechin, and indeed added considerably to it.

Lord Gray preserves in his charter-room a document, which is a curious specimen of the numerous hereditary offices that existed in feudal times, being a retour of the service of Alexander Lindsay, as heir of his father Richard Lindsay, in the office of blacksmith of the lordship of Brechin; it is dated 29th April 1514, and is published in the Miscellany of the Spalding Club for 1853. By it the inquest selected from the barons of the shire report on oath that the late Richard and his forefathers were common smiths of the lordship of Brechin, and received hereditarily nine firlots of good meal of every plough and mill of the tenants of Balnabriech, Kintrocket, Pitpullocks, Pittendreich, Hauch of Brechin, Burghill, Pettintoscall, Balbirnie, with the mill of the same, Kincraig, and Leuchland; and one fleece of an old sheep yearly of every one of the tenants of the said towns; and also common pasturage in the Long Haugh of Brechin for two cows and a horse. No bad berth this of the blacksmith of the barony of Brechin. We trace the office further down. On 5th October 1605, in the Speciales Inquisitiones for Forfarshire, published by order of Parliament, there is recorded the service of David Lindsay, as heir of Robert Lindsay, in the office of common blacksmith of the lordship of Brechin, and his right as such to two bolls one firlot of meal, and pasturage, like his predecessor, with the fleece of a sheep and a lamb, as his payment for making wool scissors, we suppose, or “tonsules lame” as they are called here; while in the previous retour they are termed “forcinij.” The Richard Lindsay first mentioned is, we presume, the proprietor of the Forkit Akir of which we spoke under the date of 1427, and which is understood to have been a part of the lands now known as the Latch. The name of Lindsay, as a blacksmith, occurs for the last time in the records of the hammermen trade of Brechin in the year 1616.

John Hepburn, who succeeded to the see of Brechin about 1517, seems, in reference to the property of the burgh, to have pursuedthe course of Bishop Carnoth. In 1524 he gives out a long decree finding that the chaplains of the chaplaincy founded by the Palatine of Strathearn were neglecting their duty, and ordaining them to build and repair, and to provide proper vestments, and he gets this decree confirmed by a charter granted by James V. in 1528. On 25th May 1535, Hepburn procured a cognition by the sheriffs-depute of Forfarshire, James Gray and David Anderson, regarding the common muir, so full and particular, that we shall take leave to lay it before our readers. This cognition states that “in the matter and cause pursued by a reverend Fader (father) in God, John, Bishop of Brechin, the dean, chapter, and citizens of the same, by our sovereign lord's letters direct to my lord sheriff of Forfar and his deputes, purporting in effect that where they 'have the muir of Brechin with the pertinents pertaining to them in oommonty and their predecessors, and they have been in possession thereof as common past memory of man, whilk now, lately, William Dempster of Careston, Janet Oehterlony, his mother, George Falconer, her spouse, William Marshall, David Deuchar, David Waterstone, portioner of the lands of Waterstone, Matthew Dempster, and James Fenton of Ogil, has stopped the said reverend father, dean, chapter, and citizens of Brechin in casting of peats, turfs, , and fuel upon the said commonty, and to pull heather thereupon, and has riven out, tilled, and sawn a part thereof, and built houses upon another part<of the same, tending to appropriate the said common muir to them wrongously, and to call both the said parties, and take cognition in the said matter upon the ground of the said lands, as in our sovereign lord's letters, direct to my lord sheriff and his deputes foresaid, at more length is contained. By virtue of the which David Lokky, one of the Mairs general of the said sheriffdom, by the sheriff principal's precept direct to him thereupon, charged and required the said reverend father, dean, and chapter, and citizens of Brechin, followers on the one part, and the said William Dempster, Janet Oehterlony, George Falconer, William Marshall, David Deuchar, David Waterstone, Matthew Dempster, and James Fenton of Ogil, -defenders, on the other part, to compear before my lord sheriff foresaid or his deputes, one or more, to this said court, day, time, and place in the hour of cause to hear and see a cognition to be taken in the said matter, and justice equally ministered to both the said parties, after the tenor of our sovereign lord's letters foresaid. At the which day, and in the said court, the said sheriffs-deputes caused call the saids parties, followers, and defenders, to compear before them the said day and place, to hear and see a cognition taken in the said matter, as they that were lawfully summoned thereto. Both the said parties compearing personally, their rights, reasons, allegations being proponed and shown, together with the depositions of diverse famous witnesses produced and admitted, and sworn in presence of parties foresaid, and their depositions, the said sheriffs-deputes being ripely advised therewith, finds and declares, by cognition taken in the said cause, that the said reverend father, dean, chapter, and citizens of Brechin, and their predecessors, has been in peaceable possession of their muir of Brechin foresaid, with their pertinents pertaining to them, in commonty in time bygone, past memory of man, bounded on all the parts about as follows—1 st, Beginning at the gallows of Keithock at the east; from that west to the Muirfauld dyke, and from that Muirfauld dyke to the Bog dyke, and from the Bog dyke, extending west to the Park dyke, at the south, extending west to the south side of Montboy, the Myre of Montboy there along, and from thence extending west to the gallows of Fearn; and from the gallows of Fearn, east at the north part to the Qualochty, and from thence east to the gallows of Kethock foresaid; and decemeth the bounds before expressed: The whole muir to be commonty to the said reverend father, dean, chapter, and citizens of Brechin: And anent certain lands and houses that are called Todd's houses, and lands lying within the bounds betwixt the gallows of Fearn and the gallows of Keithock, pertaining to James Fenton of Ogil, pertaining to the lands of Fearn, which has been occupied these twenty years bygone, without impediment of Brechin, but bruikit (enjoyed by) them peaceably, as it is clearly proved before the said sheriffs-deputes; therefore the said sheriffs-deputes excepts that lands and houses in this their process, nought (nothing) hurting the property of the superior, nor yet the commonty of the same lands and occupiers thereof, but Bn chin to have commonty over all the muir; and the said reverend father, dean, chapter, and citizens of Brechin, shall be kept and defended in such like possession of the said muir as said is, in time coming, ay and while they be lawfully called and orderly put therefrom; and also finds, because the said muir is found that it has been used and holden as common in times bygone past memory of man, therefore the said sheriff should cause it to be held common such like in time coming, according to justice, after the tenor, form, and effect of our sovereign lord’s letters foresaid, and doom given thereupon ; and precepts decerned hereupon, according to justice.,, We have modernised the spelling and phraseology a little. The cognition thus formally taken was ratified by the precept of Lord Gray, sheriff of Forfar, in a court held by him at Forfar, within two days after the perambulation of the muir by his deputes. On the back of the original cognition, which is an excellent specimen of the writing of the sixteenth century, we find this docquet engrossed, “ 23d January 1769, registered by Mr David Rae, conform to the probative act, and presented by Charles Guthrie, writer in Edinburgh, to whom the same is returned without receipt, G. O.”

Hepburn, who took the trouble of thus fixing the boundaries of the common muir, was descended of the powerful family of Bothwell, and is reputed to have been a man of great abilities. He died in August 1558, and Keith says that Listacus de rebus gestis Scotorum gives the prelate a very large character. But if he was, as we conceive he was, the John Hepburn who was abbot of St Andrews in 1513, and who competed with Andrew Foreman for the Archbishopric of that see, after the death of Alexander Stewart at the battle of Flodden, then he scarce deserves the very large character here spoken of; for, if Buchanan is to be believed, Hepburn was a factious plotter, a greedy, ambitious, and intolerant priest, and the cause of much trouble during the regency of the Duke of Albany. The documents still in existence in Brechin prove that he was an active and an intelligent man. As to his moral character, these documents afford no information. In 1543, during the minority of Queen Mary, and in the first parliament held after her father’s death, an Act was passed ordaining that “ it shall be lawful to all our sovereign lady’s lieges to have the Holy Writ, viz., the New Testament and the Old, in the vulgar tongue,”—an enactment that sounds strange in our ears, more especially when it is added, “they shall incur no crime for the having and reading of the same.” The Archbishop of St Andrews, Chancellor of the kingdom, entered a protest against this enactment, “ for himself, and in name and behalf of all the prelates of this realm present in Parliament,” including the then Bishop of Brechia Hepburn is the last Roman Catholic bishop who has left any documents connected with the town; for although after his death, and previous to the Reformation, there was one, and some authorities will have it two, bishops in the see of Brechin, namely, Donald Campbell and John Sinclair, there are no writings in existence in Brechin connected with the Episcopal reign of either of these gentlemen. It is curious enough to observe that the last document by a bishop of the Church of Rome, remaining amongst the records of Brechin, is a charter granted by Bishop Hepburn at request of Sir John Erskine of Dun, the great reformer of the Church, then the patron of the chaplaimy of the Virgin Mary, in the church of Brechin, founded by his progenitor, Sir Robert Erskine of Dun, whereby the bishop, in consequence of the incomes of the two chaplains being insufficient for their support, unites the two chaplainries into one, and appropriates the income for the support of one chaplain only. This charter, bearing date 18th and 27th June 1556, is signed by Erskine, in token of his consent to the arrangement, and completed at Farnell, which then belonged to the bishops of Brechin as a grange or country residence. The chaplainries being thus united, “Joannes Dominus de Erskyn ” appoints Nicolas Thomson to the office of chaplain.

Campbell and Sinclair just alluded to, although they have left no traces of their reigns in the records of Brechin, appear both' to have been men of considerable eminence. Campbell, who was of the family of Argyle, but whose induction into the see of Brechin is doubtful, died invested in the office of Lord Privy Seal to Queen Mary in 1562. Sinclair was the fourth son of Sir Oliver Sinclair of Roslin, and younger brother of Henry Sinclair, Bishop of Ross, and had the honour, while dean of Restalrig, to join Queen Mary in matrimony to Lord Darnley. Bishop Sinclair was first an Ordinary Lord of Session ; and afterwards, on the death of his brother Henry, president of that court, he was promoted to that important office. By the constitution of the Court of Session at that period, seven of the members behoved to be laymen, and seven clergymen, besides the Lord President, who was also required to be a churchman. Sir Thomas Erskine, Lord Brechin, proprietor of the lordship of Brechin and Navar, was one of the lords of Session in 1533. He was secretary to James V., and was unde of, and tutor to, John Erskine of Dun the famous reformer, mentioned above. In 1584, parochial clergymen were declared incapable of exercising any office in the College of Justice, that their minds might not be diverted from their proper functions; and Cromwell, with that strong spirit of common sense which was exhibited in. most of his measures, by act in 1650, debarred all clergymen, without distinction, from sitting on the judicial bench of the Court of Session. After the Reformation of 1560, several parsons and rectors were lords of Council and Session, but John. Sinclair, Bishop of Brechin, was the last churchman who was president of that court

The records of Brechin are altogether sil&nt on the events which occurred in the burgh when Romanism was abolished and Protestantism established, and ndther tradition nor general his-toiy gives any information on the subject We therefore infer that this change in the religion of the state had created little disturbance in> the city of Brechin.

We have mentioned previously that Brechin was regularly assessed along with the other royal burghs for the maintenance of royalty, and in 1525 contributed 56, 5s. towards the expenses of King James V. in France. In the division of the money granted for the defence of the Borders about the same period, Brechin paid 45. During Mary’s minority the Lord Governor, in 1550, desired a sum to purchase peace with the emperor, and Brechin gave 40 crowns. In 1556, Mary got a donation from the burghs, and Brechin contributed 11,5s.; and towards the expenses of her marriage with the Dauphin of France in 1557, the burgh gave 168, 15s.; while in 1563, this small city contributed 32, 13s. lid. in part of the expense of an ambassador to Denmark. But it is perhaps more worthy of remark, that of the extent of 4144 odds, levied from the burghs in 1556 to. defray the expenses incurred by Gawin, com-mendator of Kilwinning, and James Maxwell, “burgess of Rowane, for the down getting of the xvj deniers of ilk frank wairing of giiids coft be Scotts merchants in Rowane and Diep by the four deniers payd by them/’ Brechin is assessed in 36, 11s. 3d. These extracts are taken from the records of the Town Council of Edinburgh, preserved in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. The records of Convention in March 1575, show Brechin to have been then assessed in 55 towards defraying the expense of sending men to Flanders “for tryell of falis cunzie.” The records of the Town Council of Aberdeen in 1483, give the tax-roll of the burghs north of the Forth, as modified by the Convention of Burghs, in which Brechin is put down for 4, and Montrose for 5, 6s. 8d., so Brechin must have been a place of some trade long previous to the accession of James VI.

But this chapter would be incomplete, did we not mention that, iii 1503, the courtly James IV. appears to have visited Brechin on some of his missions of peace amongst his troublesome subjects. The books of the Lord High Treasurer, preserved in the General Register House, bear that there were paid “ the xv day of October, in Brechin, to the foure Italien men-strals, and the more tanbroner to thar hors met, xlb. vs.” James seems to have been on his way north at this time, for on the 11th October there is an entry of a payment of 14s. “to Mylson Harper in Scone;99 and immediately after the Brechin entry there is this entry, “ Item, that samyn nijcht in Dunnottar to the cheld playit on the monocords be the king's command, xviij s.” The fondness of James for music and mirth is matter still of popular tradition, as well as of authentic history, and on this his journey north he seems to have gratified his taste to the full. It will not be forgotten that it was in consequence of the marriage of James with Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII., in the August of this year, that the Stuarts came to the throne of England, and through them the Guelphs, the pvesent reigning family.


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