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The History of Brechin to 1864
Chapter V. The History of Brechin from 1670 TO 1700


Our further labours will be so far lightened, that we have now the council records of the burgh to refer to for our guide. The earliest existing volume of these records commences in 1672, and is thus titled by the clerk: “Heir followis the acts off the Toun Council off the Citie off Brechin, begun ano 1672: Balyiess then Geo. Steill, Da. Donaldson, Da. Liddell/' This is succeeded by the following pious inscription: “Incepto Libro Sit Laus et Gloria Christo, Gloria perpetua sit tribuenda Deo, (signed) Jo. Spence.” The tradition is, that in 1745, the Highland troops used the council-room and court-room as guard-rooms, broke open the presses, and destroyed all the books and papers which they found there; and that the books which do exist previous to that date, were only saved by being in the town-clerk's private house, while the other documents saved were preserved by being deposited in a press in the church steeple. Certain it is, that the oldest book of records belonging to the burgh, is a record of instruments of sasine commencing in 1648.

The town-clerk of the period was John Spence, who signs the pious inscription quoted; he was of a family who long held this office. A mortuary stone in the churchyard of Brechin records that John Spence, merchant in Brechin, who died about 1640, had a son John, who was town-clerk of Brechin, and died in 1689, being the gentleman who commences the first existing volume of our records. In 1678 Mr Spence's salary as town-clerk was fixed at one hundred merks Scots, and in 1679 all investments within the town are ordered to be given by him. Previously the clerk seems to have drawn the feus and mortifications payable within the town as a recompense for his labours. In October 1681, George Spence is nominated clerk with his father, in a well written minute, which is signed by the bishop and all the councillors in a very neat manner, and the office is given to them jointly and to the survivor. George died in 1717, having previously, in June 1713, commenced the second volume of the council records with the same inscription as his father had begun the first, and in November of that year his only son John is appointed helper and successor. This John, as the stone in the churchyard tells us, died in 1773, having been town-clerk for fifty-six years; and he again was succeeded by his only son John, who was made conjunct with his father in 1748, and died in 1790, after holding the office for forty-two years. It is worthy of remark that a John Spence was also town-clerk of Montrose in 1736, for in that year we find a charter in his favour of the Chanoly House. Most likely he was a cousin of the John Spence who died in 1773, for he could scarcely be the same person monopolising the same office in both burghs. In 1788, John Spence, elder and younger, had been appointed conjunct clerks, with right to the office to the survivor, and this last John Spence died in 1817. Mr Alexander Ritchie, who had married his cousin, Miss Spence, was appointed depute-clerk to his brother-in-law, John Spence, in 1790, and having apparently managed the whole business after that, he was, in June 1796> conjoined to the office with John Spence. Thus the family of Spence were continuous town-clerks of Brechin for more than one hundred and fifty years. We were conjoined in office with Mr Bitchie in Nov. 1825, and he died in Nov. 1826, and as he was in a measure a Spence, it may be said we were the first stranger in the office, which we resigned in 1864, when the present official, Mr James Loudon Gordon, was appointed town-clerk.

This first volume of the town council records alluded to, commences with a minute, intimating that the convention of royal burghs had resolved to protect Brechin against certain encroachments on the Common Muir, made by the lairds in the neighbourhood. The entry almost immediately following this, is one appointing a committee of the council to go to Arbroath, and there to treat with the other commissioners from Dundee and Montrose, “for a settlement with Robert Carnegy of Newgate, anent his encroachment on their common lands.” The lands of Newgate still continue as much a subject of debate to the good folks of Arbroath, as the lands of the Common Muir do to the citizens of Brechin, and one hundred and ninety years do not seem to have much changed the tempers of parties interested in these respective lands.

A minute of rather an inhospitable nature is found amongst the first records in the volume. It is entitled “An act against keeping of strangers by the inhabitants;” because, as the act states, “vagabonds and outcountry people” came in their poverty to reside in the burgh, and swallowed up the charity which properly belonged to the poor of the place. It is to be feared that Montrose’s wars had sent too many poor vagabonds to wander the country at that time.

About the same period, there occurs an act of the town council, curiously illustrative of the then state of the country. This act bears that the magistrates and council, finding it has proved greatly to the disadvantage of the town of Brechin, “and has ruined the change-houses,” and prejudiced other trades, in this, that strangers have not been encouraged* these many years past, to frequent this place on their road south and north for the want of horses to famish them with; therefore the council ordains a postmaster to be chosen yearly, who is to be bound to keep two horses of “furtie punds price the piece,” and who is to be allowed “twelve pennies of ilk pund of hire from everie other person who shall hire horses within the town,” and have also the privilege of pressing horses accustomed to be hired for the use of strangers. John Hall is immediately after named postmaster. The office appears to have been profitable, for, in 1674, it is exposed for sale by public roup.

The first election of councillors, of which there is any record, is that of 26th September 1673. The council then proceeded, according to the practice of the good old times, first to elect themselves, then to set a leet of six persons for bailies “of the whilk number (the record bears) my Lord Bishop of Brechin has named and appointed David Donaldson, younger, to continue and officiate as his lordship’s bailie, from Michaelmas ensuing,"

1673, to Michaelmas 1674, and have referred the remanent five persons to ane noble earl, George, Earl of Panmure, to nominate and choose one of the saids persons as his lordship's bailie and justiciar.” A treasurer is then elected, and the minute of that day closes. On 30th September the council are assembled, when there is presented a commission and presentation granted to John Liddell, by Mr Ersken, factor and commissioner for the Earl of Panmure, nominating Liddell to be “ the said noble earl his bailie and justiciar-depute the said year.” By “pluralitie of voices,” the council then “nominated and appointed David Liddell to continue and officiate as town’s bailie; “and (as the minute records) the bailies, council, and dean of guild, have nominated Andrew Allan as dean of guild for said year.” Thereafter, an hospital-master is elected, and the minute closes by a statement, that “the said day the court being fenced, the bailies for the last year did demit their office." Upon the 3d October following, a head court of the burgh is held, and the following entry made: “The roll of the whole inhabitants being called and diverse being absent, therefore unlawed ilk absent in the sum of five punds money, and ordains letters and executo-rials to be direct against them therefore.” No other business ever appears to have been done at the annual head court of the burgh of Brechin, which was thus nothing more than a mere formality; for as the names of the absentees were never entered, no fines could be enforced against them.

The guildiy record of the same period, 13th October 1673, bears that “ Andrew Allan, of new chosen dean of guild, did compear and did accept of his officea treasurer is then elected by the guildry from a leet of two persons named by the guildry, and the minute closes thus: “Nomina Concilij Gildi, John Liddell, late dean gild, James Henderson, treasurer, David Donaldson, younger, David LiddeL” It will be remarked that Donaldson was the bailie named by the bishop; John Liddell the bailie named by Lord Panmure, and David Liddell the town's bailie, while James Henderson was a councillor of the burgh; so that the town council seem to have had the whole sway in the guildry at that time, although by act of the guildry in October 1671, it was specially appointed that the council should consist of five members, the dean of guild, the box-master, and other three persons, “who shall be nominate, with common consent, by plurality of voices out of the said fraternity” of guildry. The same influence predominates during the whole period embraced in this chapter of our history; in 1683, Robert Strachan is received brother guild, gratis, at the request of my Lord Bishop, then provost of Brechin; and in 1698 the provost and bailies are named before the dean in his own court. The proceedings of the guildry, during the period alluded to, are chiefly confined to the regulation of their own internal affairs. On the 9th February 1676, Christian Wilson, daughter of Charles Wilson, was admitted a guild brother, or as the minute more properly phrases it, “a free person” of the guildry. In 1697, this lady got a husband, John Guthrie, and he was gallantly received a member of the guildry in respect of the payment formerly made by his wife. The right of sitting in the front seat of the loft in the church of Brechin occupied no little of the time of this incorporation. In October 1676, the guildry “ have thought fit that there be one nominate to sit in the principal place of the loft in the church, and for that end, John Skinner is appointed, and failing of him, John Allan, to sit in that seat for the year to come*—a pretty long sederunt. Three years afterwards this is remedied by appointing the treasurer to enjoy that proud eminence “ ilk Lord’s-day,” but the treasurer is enjoined to “ come in timeously before the last bell rings.” If we may trust the church records of this period, the sway exercised gave a man little choice whether he should go to church “timeously” or not; for it would appear, if he had not attended, he would have been exposed both to the spiritual ban of the clergy, and the temporal power of the civil magistrate. At the beginning of the volume of records of the session commencing in 1678, are engrossed the “acts, statutes, and ordinances, according to the rules set down in the old register, anno 1615,and others added” Some of these acts are severe enough. “ Imprimis, (says the record,) it is statute and ordained that all, both in town and landward, shall repair to the church on the Lord's-day to hear God’s Word; whosoever shall be found absent without a relevant excuse, shall pay for the first fault 5s. Scots, and so totiea quotiea doubling it, with their public repentance.” It is also ordered that all within the town shall repair to the “hearing of sermon on the week day, and on Thursday at the exercise, under the penalty of 40 pennies, dispensing with the servants their absence on these days." To enforce these rules, the collectors of charity were to go through the town during the time of service and take down the names of offenders. Many other rules equally severe are enacted, and amongst the rest, “It is statute and ordained that whosoever shall be found drunk shall be admonished by the elders pro primo, and if they continue in that sin, shall be delated to the session, and then to be charged to appear there to acknowledge their offence, and shall be punished according to the discretion of the minister and elders, both in purse and private repentance; and if they continue in that sin, they shall satisfy publicly.” These enactments, be it remembered, were made during the prevalence of Episcopacy, for it was not till 1640 that Presbyterianism was predominant, and Episcopacy was restored in 1662.

Brechin was burned in 1672. The presbytery records of 21st March 1672, have this entry on the subject: “ This day the magistrates of the burgh of Brechin appeared, presenting the sad and deplorable condition of the distressed people in this town through great losses by a devouring fire on the third of this instant, betwixt one and two after midnight, whereby their dwelling-houses, insight plenishing, com in bams and bam yards, were destroyed, and supplicated a recommendation to the several kirks within the presbytery for charitable support, which was granted.” Subsequently, these records tell us that the sums collected were as follows:—“Marietoun, £8, 10s. 6d.; Craig, £13, 6s. 8d.; Montros, £66,13s. 4d.; Logie, £10,13s. 4d.; Dun, £9, 68. 8d.; Stracathro, £17, 1s. 6d.; Edzell, £10; Lethnot, £8, 8s.; Navar, £4, 10d.; Menmuir, £20, 1s. 6d.; Fearn, £12,13s. 4d;; Othlo, £5, 10d.; Carrotstoun, £3. No collection at Famell, by reason there is no minister there; Kynnaird only deficient.’ These collections serve to give an idea of the respective wealth of these different parishes in 1672. The council records give no direct account of this fire. On a loose slip of paper, now bound up with the council book, there is an entry under date 6th November 1672, bearing that “the council taking to consideration the condition of those who had the loss by the late fire, and that there are some that have lost all their subjects/' therefore ordered an accompt to be taken of the money collected and distributed ; “and ordains that yet there shall be the sum of four-score punds distributed amongst those who have not houses burned, at the distribution of the bailies and council, and the superplus to be bestowed for rebuilding the houses.0 On 18th May 1674, we find an entry in the council book renewing the order for an account of the money “ given for charity by this burgh and parish, aud several other of our good neighbours, for the help of those who were sufferers in the late sad accident of burning; ” and in June following, the accompt is given in, bearing that there had been collected from the burghs of Dundee, Forfar, Arbroath and Montrose, and the presbyteries of Dundee, Forfar, and Brechin, and the presbytery of the Mearns, £479, 6s. Scots. The session records of Arbuthnott state that, on 2d June 1672, a sum of £6 Scots had been collected at the kirk door of that parish for the benefit of the persons in the town of Brechin who had suffered by fire. From these entries we may conclude that the fire had been purely accidental, but that it had done considerable damage. And as we find the council employed at different times down to 1676, in regulating the distribution of the money collected, it would appear that they had found no small difficulty in pleasing all parties in regard to it.

Brechin sent a representative to Parliament in 1585, and continued to do so till the Union.

A number of the entries in the burgh records of the seventeenth century refer to the expenses which the burgh incurred by sending a commissioner to Parliament; and occasionally differences seem to have existed between the representative and the constituents, as to the sufficiency of the sums remitted for his support. Other matters, however, also engrossed the council, matters which would now seem as strange as paying a salary to a member of Parliament; and not a few acts and ordinances were then made by the town council of Brechin, which would scarce be observed by the burgesses of the present day. Thus, in 1674, it is enacted that no person shall put any of their male children, above ten years of age, to any school without or within the burgh, except the grammar-school, under the pain of £20 Scots.

The gentleman whose school was thus fostered by a penalty was Mr John Dempster, a great favourite with the then town council. In September 1674, Mr John Dempster was appointed by the bishop to supply his charge as minister, upon which the council nominated Mr James Dempster assistant schoolmaster; and, in the June following, Mr James Dempster is promoted to be principal schoolmaster; Lord Panmure, then patron of the presceptory of Maisondieu, having presented him to the emoluments arising from that endowment.

But while matters went on thus smoothly with the heads of the church, one of the inferior officers gave the council no small annoyance. Robert Strachan, kirk-officer, presumed to “vilipend and abuse the bailies," and to declare that he cared not a -for all the bailies in Brechin. An act of council is therefore made on 22d March 1675, embodying all this in the plainest language, and a copy of the act is sent to the bishop, Mr Robert Lawrie, who lived in Edinburgh, and officiated as one of the ministers of Edinburgh. My lord bishop immediately writes back to his “much honoured and very good friends, the magistrates and town council of Brechin,” condoling with them on the enormity of the offence committed, and authorising them to dismiss the offender. The council accordingly nominated James Liddell, and presented him as kirk-officer to the session; when the minister, Mr Laurence Skinner, declared his willingness to receive Liddell, if it was the bishop’s pleasure, upon seeing a confirmation of the nomination under the bishop’s own hand; and yet, withal, he declared that he could not receive him presently as kirk-officer, because it being a church office, he humbly conceived that before Liddell be actually admitted to officiate, it was expedient that his election be authorised by some one clothed with church power for that end; and in this resolution Mr Skinner is confirmed by the “commissioners direct from noblemen heritors, and other inferior heritors;” but on 28th April, a very tart letter, written by the bishop “ with his own hand/’ is produced, confirming all that the magistrates had done, “whereupon Mr Laurence Skinner protested against the sudden procedure of the bailies and town council.* &c., which protestation, however, “the bailies prohibited the clerk of the session to insert in the town session book, and that under the highest pains; ” but Mr Skinner “ commanded the clerk to insert it, the next Lord’s day, in the landward session book, which was done accordingly, and there it is extant/’ says that record. We suspect Mr Patrick Brokas the session-clerk, who appears to have been an intelligent and pains-taking man, had also been a prudent one, and while complying so far with the injunctions of the minister, had had the terror of the bishop before his eyes, as he cuts short Mr Skinner’s protest with an “et cetera.” Strachan was accordingly discharged, but behold! in July my lords of the Privy Council take a different view of the matter, and Strachan is then restored by the town council, “conform to the will of the foresaid decreet of the lords of the Privy Council, letters of homing following thereupon and charge given to themagistrates.” Strachan is mentioned as continuing kirk-officer in 1684.

The tolbooth of the burgh has always been a source of annoyance to the council. In October 1675, one debtor escaped, and the council were in fears about other two. They therefore appointed the jail to be watched night and day by two “ armed able men/' to be furnished alternately by the incorporations of the smiths, glovers, bakers, shoemakers, weavers, tailors, merchants, maltmen, and wrights. In 1683, a debtor of some note is recorded as offering the town-officers considerable sums to let him go free; and therefore the council very wisely apply to have him transported to some other burgh. Besides the town-officers, the magistrates of that time possessed an official who has since been dispensed with—the town’s-piper—and to that office we find a John Wyslie admitted on 20th June 1688, to whom there is assigned a salary of ten merks yearly, “by and attour the good will of the town’s-people.” Wyslie was discharged in January 1691, because he did not perform the duties of his office, in going regularly through the city morning and evening, but in 1698 he is again restored, likely upon promise of better behaviour. The person who held this office of town’s-piper abont 1750, was wont, after his perambulations through the town to rouse the inhabitants from their couches, to terminate his journey opposite the White Swan Inn, then the principal inn of the burgh; on the site of which the Union Bank is now built, in what was then called the Meal Market Wynd, now denominated. Swan Street, and where the piper blew his chanter till mine host of the Swan gave him a “momin’,” which, we have understood, was generally ample, and the glass was duly emptied by the piper with a significant nod to the landlord, and a hearty “heer’s till him ”—both gentlemen were out in the “fourty-five.” 'The office seems gradually to have fallen into abeyance, the town withdrew the salary, the incorporations withheld their grants, the inhabitants became chary of giving money for such music, and towards the close of the eighteenth century the piper ceased to play; the latest notice which we find of the musician being the grant of a coat for him by the guildry in 1796. This last of the pipers was named Low. He lived at the Gallowhill, or where the North Port Distillery is now situated. He discharged the duties of his office by playing through the town iu the morning at 5 o’clock, and in the evening at 7 o’clock, while then, as now, the great bell was rung during summer at 6 o’clock morning, and during the winter at 7 o'clock morning, and each evening at 8 o’clock; the piper serving as the precursor of the bellman, or a warning for those who preferred early hours.

The crop of 1674 appears to have been deficient In March 1674, the session records tell us there was “intimate a day of humiliation to be keeped through the whole presbytery the next Lord's day, by reason of the great storm of snow and frost lying on the ground in the spring time of the year, when the seed ought to be sown in the ground.” In 1675, there appears also to have been a bad harvest, for on the 25th July of that year, a fast is proclaimed, “ first, to mourn for the contempt and disobedience of the gospel and holy ordinances; second, for the great increase and prevalence of aitheism and profanity in the land; third, for the sinful undervaluing the great blessing of peace so long enjoyed under his Majesty, (the pious Charles II.;) and fourth, because the Lord is angry with this land, threatening the destruction of the fruits of the ground, necessary provision for man and beast, and that by a long continued drouth, threatening the plague of famine.” In November 1675, the town council approve of a deduction from the treasurer’s account of £52 Scots, lost by the sale of 24 bolls of meal “that was bought up by the town, and was sold out to the poor people the last summer, during the time of the scarcity of victual.” The price of the meal is not mentioned. The crop of 1681 was also deficient, if we may believe a proclamation issued by the Privy Council, and noticed in the session-book, enjoining a fast, because, “first of abuse of peace and plenty, and contempt of the gospel; next, because many have departed from the communion of the national kirk; thirdly, because the Lord's wrath is manifested by afflicting the land with a long scorching drought, making the heavens as brass, and the earth as iron, binding up the clouds, threatening thereby to consume the fruits of the ground, necessary provision for sustaining the life of man and beast; lastly, to pray for a blessing to the ensuing Parliament, which is to sit down at Edinburgh, 28th July next.” This proclamation was issued by Charles II. Mr Laurence Oliphant, writer in Edinburgh, was then agent for the town; and in August 1681, that gentleman craves the council to send him eight or ten bolls meal, in part payment of his account—the scarcity in Edinburgh probably having reduced Mr Oliphant to this necessity.

Amongst other devices fallen upon by Charles II. for raising money, was the farming the duties then imposed as excise. The records of Brechin state, that on 13th May 1676, bailie David Donaldson was authorised to offer for the excise of the burgh for that year, the sum of a thousand merks Scots, “and if he find it convenient to go the length of twelve hundred merks,” equal to £66, 13s. 4d. sterling. It is not stated whether the offer of the burgh was accepted; but for that year, and for some years afterwards, “a month and a quarter's supply ”is ordered to be raised “in lieu of excise," from which we conclude some arrangement had been made to save the burgh from the gaugers of that period.

In 1676, for the first time, we find the collector or convener, and the deacons of crafts, called to vote on the election of the town’s bailie. When the council became possessed of the right to elect all the magistrates, the trades also had the privilege to vote on the leet set by the council for provost and bailies, a right which the deacon convener and deacons enjoyed till the reform act of 1833 threw the -election of the whole council into the hands of the ten pound voters, and since then the council thus elected choose out among themselves the magistrates and officebearers.

However much the body of the inhabitants of Brechin may have been inclined to Presbyterianism, the ruling party seem, after the restoration of Episcopacy in 1662, to have gone hand in hand with the court. Defection in high places was not much to be wondered at during a time when men’s minds were so unsettled. Nay, defection seems to have gone down to the lowest classes, for we even find that the renowned Jenny Geddes, who first put out a hand against Episcopacy in 1637, gave all the inflammable materials in the booth where she carried on the trade of a greengrocer, to raise a bonfire in honour of the coronation of King Charleerin 1661. It is not to be wondered at, then, that the magistrates of Brechin of 1678, cheerfully sent Mr David Donaldson as commissioner to the Parliament summoned “in order to the levying of forces for defence of the kingdom from foreign invasion and for suppression of field conventicles” a mode of preaching in wilds and glades, resorted to by the persecuted Presbyterians, who were prohibited under severe penalties from worshipping God according to the dictates of their own conscience. As we find no mention of conventicles in this neighbourhood, and as there are not, so far as we know, any memorials of Covenanters in the town of Brechin or surrounding country, we presume that the spirit of the people, like that of their rulers, had now readily bent to Episcopalian sway. At any rate, Bishop Haliburton, who was inducted into the see of Brechin in 1678, seems to have been determined to assume all the temporal, as well as all the spiritual power, attached to his office; for the minute of the annual election of councillors in September 1678, commences by declaring that there were “convened personally, the Right Reverend Father in God, George Lord Bishop of Brechin, as also,” the bailies and councillors; and frequently afterwards, when any business of importance fell to be transacted, the bishop took his place at the council board. Haliburton s attention to civil matters does not appear to have interrupted the proper discharge of his ecclesiastical duties, for he often presided at meetings of session, frequently preached during week-days, and was always present at Christmas, although, as we believe, he did not generally reside in Brechin. After his translation to the see of Aberdeen, we find it stated in the session records of Brechin, that on 20th September 1683, “Bishop Haliburton preached on the Lord's day, forenoon text, Matthew, 5th chapter, 7th verse,” it being then the practice, to enter in the records of the session, not only the names of all the preachers, but the respective texts from which they preached.

The arbitrary proceedings of Charles II. and his advisers produced as much discontent as the despotic proceedings of his immediate predecessors, and the kingdom was kept in a ferment during the whole of his reign, which closed in 1685. In 1679 occurred the battle of Bothwell Bridge, between the Presbyterians and Royalists, and in the same year Archbishop Sharpe was murdered by a party of the Nonconformists in Fife. In consequence a general arming of the kingdom was ordered, and the council of Brechin named David Donaldson, younger, then dean of guild, to be captain on the east side of the town, James Cowie to be lieutenant, and Francis Molison, ensign; and for the west side of the town Laurence Skinner, late bailie, was appointed captain, William Gray, lieutenant, and Alexander Millar, ensign; the captains being authorised to choose their inferior officers. The valorous deeds of these heroes are not on record. Probably their labours were confined to pretty much the same duty as was discharged by the constables, who, till the establishment of a regular police, were annually elected, and who were governed by officers bearing the same high-sounding titles of distinction which were given to the military gentlemen of 1679. The arms belonging to the burgh are subsequently stated to be twenty-seven halberts, ten muskets, nine pairs of bandiliers, “and ane pudder home,” five pikes, two half pikes, and five swords, “by and attour the three swords which the officers have." A quarter of a month’s cess was# also levied at this time for payment ‘*of the militia at the rendezvouse,” a body of troops differing from the burgh soldiers iu the same respect that the modem local militia differed from the volunteers. The number of militiamen raised by the burgh is not mentioned; but in 1685 John Strachan, William Crabb, and George Scott, shoemakers, along with a James Tindall, and a person bearing the appropriate name of David Cadger, fishmonger, are all admitted burgesses gratis, because they undertook to go out as militiamen from the burgh for seven years.

These warlike preparations, however, seem not to have altogether abstracted the attention of the council from municipal affairs, for in October 1679 the passage, as it is termed, at the North Port, is ordered to be made up “for convenience of passage of carts over the bum and up to the Port; ” the Port being then situated at what is now the point of junction between the dwelling-house belonging to the North Port brewery and the house immediately south of it. Good drink also seems to have been worthy of notice about this period; at least in May 1680.this “David Donaldson, younger,” so often mentioned, and whose death is recorded as having occurred in 1684, is commissioned to go south, and endeavour to obtain a remission of the excise fines then imposed upon the maisters in the buigh, for “nonconformity ” to laws which have often been evaded by the inhabitants of Brechin since that period.

In 1681 an Act of Parliament was passed, ordaining all persons in public office to take a certain oath to Government; and at the Annual election of that year we find this oath recorded as sworn by the councillors and deacons of crafts of Brechin. The form is very solemn, though the right of the king to impose such an oath may be doubted by many in the present age. The swearers declare in presence of the eternal God, whom they invocate as judge and witness, that they profess the true Protestant religion, contained in the Confession of Faith recorded in the first Parliament of King James VI.; that they will adhere thereto, and will educate their children therein; that King Charles II. “is the only supreme governor of this realm over all persons, and in all causes as well ecclesiastical as civil;” that it is unlawful for subjects, upon pretence of reformation or any other pretence whatsoever, to enter into covenants and leagues, or to assemble to treat of any matter of state, civil or ecclesiastical, without his Majesty’s special command or express leave; and that there was no obligation on them by the Solemn League and Covenant The council of this period do not seem to have been of the same mind with the English gentleman, Richard Rumbold, who, when on the scaffold for rising in arms against James II., declared that “he never believed the generality of mankind came into the world bridled and saddled, and the rest booted and spurred to ride upon the multitude.'

Mr Robert Douglas was appointed bishop in 1682, when the council created him, “Silvester Douglas his lawful son, Alexander Douglas, writer in Edinburgh, *Mr Silvester Lammie, minister at Eassie, and James Lamb,” the bishop’s servant, burgesses. This was in August, and in the September succeeding, Mr Alexander Gardiner, minister at Girvan, and James Douglas, another of the bishop’s sons, were received to the same honour. On 5th November 1683 the head of the Little Steeple was “ blowen ower,” as the kirk-session records bear, and it was repaired at an expense which was equivalent to the price of twelve bolls of meal, as we show in an appendix, where we give the details of the curious expenses incurred. The injury done, therefore, had not been very serious. Bishop Douglas was succeeded in 1684 by Bishop Cairncross, an able man of peculiar fortunes, who does not seem to have met with the same respect from the council as Douglas; at least we see nothing said about him in the council records, except the fact of his having attended the head court, and taken the oaths to the king, in 1684, and he only remained in the see a few months, having been then promoted to Glasgow.

Andrew Wood of Balbegno, incarcerate in the jail of Brechin in February 1683, gives the magistrates much trouble in consequence of having several times offered to the officers considerable sums of money by way of bribe to set him free; and, therefore, the council write their agent in Edinburgh to endeavour to have Andrew removed to another town, and meantime they get the town-officers to renew their oaths of fidelity. The imprisonment of parties for debt in the jail of Brechin has given much trouble to the council since 1683; but, happily, there is little of that sort of imprisonment now; and in Brechin there is no prison either for civil debtors or for criminals—the accommodation in the police cells being merely for temporary customers.

Every one who has witnessed the fairs held on Trinity Muir has noticed the array of halberts with which the council are guarded to the markets, and by means of which, when necessary, the decisions of the magistrates, given in the markets, are enforced This guard is furnished by the incorporations of the town, each sending two men at Trinity fair, and one man at Lammas fair. The weapons with which the men are armed belong to the respective incorporations. The array yet bears a warlike, although rather a burlesque appearance; but in the period to which this chapter alludes, these men-at-arms were considered as strictly under martial law; for it is solemnly recorded that two of the guard, in May 1683, “ did mutiny under their arms,’and disobey the magistrates orders, in consequence of which an Act is made to prevent the like in time coming. One of these mutineers, named David Duncanson, seems to have given the magistrates no small annoyance on different occasions, and he ventured even to meddle with the bishop; for, on 3d September 1679, it is stated by the session that they had received a letter from his reverence, complaining of Duncanson “for uttering imprecations against him and his family;" but whether Duncanson was troublesome from political or clerical reasons, or from the pure spirit of mischief, is not recorded, although it would rather appear that he was merely a roving blade. Duncanson was, on the occasion of the mutiny, the guardsman sent out by the baker trade, and a baker himself—a craft which is severely censured in the same year for the insufficient bread offered to the public; the craft then consisting of only “two baxters,” who are strictly prohibited by the town council from meeting together to cheat the community. The other trades, however, come in for a share of the ban of 1683. The minute of council immediately following that regarding the mutiny, states that the town was then very ill served for want of good craftsmen, by reason of the exorbitant entry fees demanded; and enacts that, in time coming, the full fees of admission to the hammmerman, glover, shoemaker, and weaver trades, should be £20 Scots; and to the baker and tailor trades, twenty merks; and that any sufficient craftsman tendering the entry-money then enacted, should be entitled to exercise his trade, though his craft refused to receive him a member of their body. It is melancholy to observe that, in July 1684, Walter Jameson, “church-master,” as the treasurer was then designated, is directed to give David Duncanson a boll of oatmeal, and that in 1685 the children of Duncanson are admitted to the benefit of the hospital as a fatherless family left in want. This is generally the result with persons of such character as Duncanson.

The bridge of Brechin was repaired in 1684, chiefly at the expense of the council, who were obliged to borrow money from the kirk-session to meet the heavy disbursements. The extent of the repair is not mentioned, but the record bears “that the workmen have been at it for a long time," and the voluntary contribution expected for the defraying of the expenses not being come in, the money was borrowed “ lest the work should be delayed, and therethrough miscarry.” The session minutes state that on the 19th January 1684, there were collected at the church of Brechin £31,13s., Scots of course, “ to help to repair the bridge of Brechin;” while the presbytery records of the same year bear that the clerk was instructed to deliver to the town treasurer of Brechin the money collected by the “several ministers and sessions” for repair of the bridge, the amount not being mentioned. The repair, however, then made was not complete, for, in December 1686, the council state “that the rail of the bridge of Brechin has been this long time in an ill and dangerous condition both to strangers and others, being broken down and fallen to the ground by the violence of the wind in November 1683, which is a great reproach to .the town; and, therefore, for removing of this reproach, Thomas Scott is ordained to repair the bridge, and “to have thretty punds for his pains, and his freedom to the town.” Again, in 1691, the bridge is appointed to be put to rights; but the work must have been executed in a very slovenly manner, if executed at all, for in 1695 the “east ravell,” (eastern protection wall) is found to be very ruinous, and ordered to be repaired; and in 1707 the whole “ravell” is directed to be amended. A property at Meikle Mill which belonged to the late Mr John Symmer, dyer, was held in feu of the town council for payment of a small sum annually, and under the obligation of keeping the caulseway (roadway) of the bridge in repair; but this latter obligation was taken out of the last charter granted to Mr Symmer in 1833. Amongst the records of Arbroath there is a disposition granted by Stephan, son of Stephan of Kinnardesley, about 1220, in which he dispones to Gregory, Bishop of Brechin, for the sustentation of the bridge of Brechin, and the maintenance of the chaplains praying for the dead, his lands of Drumsleed, with all the pertinents particularly enumerated. The bridge of Brechin was not the only public work to which the attention of the inhabitants of Brechin was directed. In 1661 a collection was made for the erection of “two necessary bridges to be built over the waters of Esk and Prossin; ” on 24th June 1668, the session of Brechin gave £4 to help to build the bridge of Idvie; in April 1670 a collection was made to assist in repairing and rebuilding the shore and harbour of Dundee, “ which was destroyed and ruined in one night by a stormy tempest of the sea; ” in January 1673 a collection was made “ for the burning in Coupar of Fife; ” the sum of £38, 4d. was raised in 1679 for the burning there was at Glasgow, although, from various causes, the money was not paid over till 1682 to “David Bose, collecter of the general contribution throw the whole kingdom for building the bridge at Endersonne;” and on 6th June 1680, the bishop ordered a collection to be made “ through the presbytery? for repair of the bridge of Stracathro, to which the Brechin session willingly assented and appointed £6 Scots to be given “as their proportional part." But these were not the sole purposes for which collections were made. Although the spirit of the times ran hard against liberty of conscience, yet the impropriety of slavery and the right of the liberty of the person were fully admitted, abstractly at least, and the sufferings of those in bodily captivity met with Christian sympathy. On 6th March 1678, the sum of £64,14s. 4d. Scots, no mean sum, was collected in the cathedral church “ for the use of the prisoners of Algiers;” and again in March 1682, were gathered for “ Francisco Polanus, a Grecian, his brethren and sisters in Turkish captivity,” £22, 10s. 4d. Indeed, during the Episcopal reign of Bishop Haliburton, we meet with many liberal collections for the like generous purposes.

The discipline of the church appears to have been very severe and strict about this time, for one woman is ordered to stand all night in jail for scolding an elder, and another is recorded as having occupied the “place of public repentance” no less than fifteen times successively before being “ absolved." The offenders nevertheless continued numerous, and no small portion of the income of the session was derived from fines. Another source of revenue, and a far pleasanter one, was the contributions made by parties when the nuptial knot was tied. In July 1685, the kirk-session enacted that the elder who collected on the Sabbath should attend all the marriages of the week “ for gathering the collections,” an appointment which would be very agreeable to those members of session who liked good cheer. Numerous Acts were also made about this period by the bishop and town’s session in favour of individuals for the erection of desks or pews in the cathedral, all of which were specially directed to be wainscot. It will be observed that cathedral churches originally were open to every comer, and that there were few or no permanent seats in the church, each person being content to stand or bring his seat with him, and assume such place as he could find unoccupied. This is yet the case with the cathedrals in England and on the Continent. The setting aside of special seats in the body of the church to individuals is first mentioned, so far as we have noticed, in the records of the landward session, on 10th February 1658.

The oath we have alluded to, commonly called the test oath, was sworn in Brechin for the last time in 1685; and it then, for the first and last time, contained the name of James VII. In 1686, the election of any new magistrates or council was discharged by a letter from the Earl of Perth, Lord Chancellor of Scotland, and the existing office-bearers were directed to continue their functions. The same arbitrary measure was resorted to by the infatuated James in 1687 and 1688; but in the end of that year, this monarch, the last of the long line of Stewarts, was dethroned, and William Prince of Orange, and Mary his wife, the daughter of James, were called jointly to the crown of Great Britain under the title of King William and Queen Mary. A minute of the town council of Brechin of this period is so characteristic of the state of the kingdom, that we prefer copying it verbatim to giving any abstract of its contents. The minute thus proceeds:—“Brechin, the 28th December 1688 years; convened in the town council of the said burgh the persons after named—viz., James, Lord Bishop of Brechin; James Allan, Laurence Skinner, and James Cowie, bailies; Francis Moleson, dean of guild ; David Liddell, James Henderson, David Gray, Alexander Young, David Stewart, John Hendry, Alexander Dali, Alexander Jamieson, John Low, councillors: Who taking to their consideration heretofore and at this time, how frequently the whole kingdom is alarmed by the noise of invasion of Papists from France and Ireland, and of assaults and insurrections by Papists within this kingdom, have, conform to the practice of other burghs of the kingdom, put this burgh under arms, to be in a posture and condition of defence to join with the rest of the shire if they should be called. And by several proclamations through the town, ordered all the fencible men, free and unfree, within the town, to keep their several rendezvous well armed. And as it is known and complained of by several who gave due obedience that there were several persons able of body and means who made no appearance, and some others does appear in the fields but had no arms; therefore, for their contempt, and in example to others to disobey in time coming, ordains them to be poinded to the value of ten pounds Scots money for ilk day’s contempt. Whilk sum, so to be poinded for, is to be employed and bestowed for buying of powder and lead, to be distributed by the magistrates to those in the town who have muskets and firelocks when occasion shall offer. And it is further enacted, that whoever shall be convicted of being absent at any rendezvous without a good and lawful cause to be allowed by the town council, shall amit, lose, and forfeit the privilege of a burgess until he buy the same anew at the highest rate used within this burgh; and besides to be poinded for the said ten pounds for ilk day’s contempt. And further, it is enacted for the better and easy convening and rendezvousing, that the town

be divided in four companies under the command of four captains, who are to choose their under officers, for whom they will be answerable, to which captains afternamed the rolls of their several companies are delivered, who are to take care of the particular arms of ilk man under their command, and to report the same to the bailies and council; and if any person or persons be deficient any day without a lawful and good excuse when the company is called or convened by authority, the several captains are hereby warranted to poind for the said sum of ten pounds, for which they are to be accountable to the magistrates and council, they having always allowance of the third part thereof for their under officers and nightly guard. Captains names are John Donaldson, captain; Alexander Young, captain; Walter Jamieson, captain; James Low, captain.” Such were the preparations of the bishop, the town council, and community, probably made by the different parties in different spirits. All were hostile to the Roman Catholics, and some possibly to King James; but the bishop was a determined opponent of, and no doubt authorised these preparations in the hopes that they would be effectual against, the Prince of Orange. The bishop of this period was James Drummond—a near relation of the Earl of Perth, who was a Papist; but the bishop is reported to have been a man of strict Protestant principles, and a decided opponent of King James's interference with the Church, although he, like most of his brethren, was a keen supporter of hereditary monarchy, and took a decided part with King James when most of his other courtiers deserted him. Bishop Drummond, therefore, no doubt, meant this arming to be for protection of James and the support of his throne and power; but others, if we may judge from their conduct on the accession of King William, intended it for a very different purpose. With this minute terminates the appearance of the bishop in council, and with this minute may be said to terminate the reign of Episcopacy in Brechin. William and Mary were, in April 1689, declared monarchs of Scotland, and with their accession closed the supremacy of Episcopacy in Scotland. The rental of the see at this time was 293 bolls 3 firlots victual, (wheat, bere, meal, and malt,) and £941,13s. 4d. Scots money, besides 500 merks, payable by Scott of Ancrum, and some small feus from tenements in Brechin.

Bishop Drummond preached in Brechin for the last time on Sunday, 14th April 1689; his text was taken from the 12th chapter, 1st verse, of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, a text which does not imply Drummond thought this sermon was the last which would be delivered by a bishop in the cathedral church of Brechin, but a text which seems to have been a favourite one with him, as he is recorded as preaching from it on a previous occasion. Whatever may have been the feelings of the bishop and his clergy in regard to the person of King James VII., they do not appear to have approved of his policy; for, on 16th May 1689, they hold a solemn “ thanksgiving for deliverance from Popery”—Mr Lawrence Skinner preaching from an appropriate text. Again, in the October of the following year, a “sermon of thanksgiving” is preached “for the King’s arrival from Ireland,” and the texts adopted forenoon and afternoon by the Messrs Skinner are evidently meant to be applicable to James’s then presumed condition, although the statement of his arrival from Ireland proved to be a mistake.

It may not be out of place to remark that the Episcopacy of this era was of a very moderate cast. Dr Russell, in his edition of Keith’s History of the Scotch Bishops, tells us that “ all the moderate Presbyterians attended the Episcopal worship and communion in the parish churches; and in fact, at the period in question, there was scarcely any outward distinction between the two parties in faith, in worship, or in discipline.”—“With regard to discipline, the Established Church of that day had their kirk-sessions as the Presbyterians have at present; they had their presbyteries too, where some experienced minister of the bishop’s nomination acted as their moderator." Such was the Church which King William put down, much it is believed against his own inclination; but the bishops refusing to recognise him as their sovereign, policy called for the establishment of Presbyterianism as the national religion. The officiating clergymen of Brechin at this date were Mr Lawrence Skinner, and Mr John Skinner his son; and in continuing to officiate as clergymen after the removal of the bishop, they laid themselves open to no charge of change of doctrine. Mr Lawrence Skinner was originally doctor of the grammar-school, afterwards minister at Navar, and was, as we have already seen, nominated minister of Brechin in 1650, in which office he continued to labour till his death in 1691. Looking at the texts which are recorded in the session minutes as those from which he preached on the 29th May, the birthday and anniversary of the restoration of Charles II., we should say he was a determined loyalist. And this is made still further evident, when on 5th September 1689, after the Convention of Estates in Scotland had declared James VII. to have forfeited the throne, he preaches from the text of the 14th chapter of Jeremiah and the 17th verse, which we leave our readers to consult for themselves. Mr John Skinner, again refusing to sign the test required when Presbyterianism became completely predominant, was deposed in 1695, but he remained about Brechin, and appears to have had no little influence amongst his flock notwithstanding of his deposition, as we shall afterwards see.

As already noticed, there appears to have been a violent storm of wind in November 1683, for the kirk-session records of the 5th of that month bear that “ By order from the session there was ane hundredth merks lifted, which was in the Cordiners' hands, (the shoemaker trade,) for the repairing the head of the litl speeple, blown ower on the 5th day of this month, and for other works about the kirk, in regard the kirk-master was superexpended, as his last accompts will show.” The same minute directs payment “to James Kinnear 1s. 4d. for mending a holl in the porch door." The session therefore at this time had defrayed the expense of all repairs on the church.

The board in the session-house, previously referred to, records that in “1690 Master John Glendei, Dean of Cashels, and prebend of Sant Michaels of Dublin in Ireland, gifted £40.” We have been unable to learn what connexion Mr Glendei had with Brechin, but likely he had been a native of the city, for the name, now written Glendey, is still common in the town. Besides this donation to the session, Mr Glendei in 1697 mortified £120 sterling in the hands of the United College of St Andrews, to found a bursary for young men belonging to Brechin; and the bursary, which now yields £7,16s. 8d. annually, was to be held for nine years, and often was of importance to students proceeding to St Andrews from Brechin. However, the royal commission which visited all the colleges some years since ordained that it should be lawful for the patron of the Glendey bursary u to present thereto any person, without restriction as to kindred or place of birth;" so that Brechin has ceased to have any particular interest in the matter.

In the spring of 1689, Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, attempted a rising in favour of King James, which was closed by the battle of Killiecrankie, at which this famous champion of national conformity in religion terminated his career— a career held by some to have been glorious, and by others inglorious, but admitted by all to have been bloody, if not cruel. On the 22d August 1689, there is an entry in the session records stating that there was “ no sermon on the Sabbath day by reason of the Highlanders who are roving the country; ”and in the June of that year the council enact that, as the inhabitants are extraordinarily oppressed for baggage horses to transmit English forces to the north and back again, “this place being the public road,” a month’s cess should be raised to remunerate such of the citizens as were compelled to this service. A reason assigned for this taxation is that the public purse was low, or, as the phrase is, that “ the common good of the burgh is far at under,” in consequence of the expense of rebuilding the common mill. The meal mill of Meikle Mill, therefore, had been rebuilt at this time, and as it stood till 1808, when a new mill house was erected, this building had existed for a hundred and twenty years. Then  this last erected mill house is now degraded into a store for rags for the lise of the paper mill.

On the accession of William and Mary, the town councils in Scotland were restored by poll elections; but in the burgh of Brechin, where the bishop had acted as provost, and also named one of the bailies, while Lord Panmure chose another bailie, and the council only elected the third; and where there was now no bishop, and consequently no bishop’s bailie, (James Alan, by the by, the bishop’s bailie having disappeared from the council along with Bishop Drummond, a poll election could scarce restore the magistracy. This, at least, was the statement made to the Privy Council by the gentlemen who remained in office, and the Privy Council in consequence gave the remaining councillors power to choose a new council, and to dispense with the election of a bishop’s bailie. Perhaps there was a lurking suspicion in the minds of the councillors that a poll election might have terminated unfavourably to them, for no doubt the bishop had left a party in Brechin friendly to his side of politics. This idea is confirmed by finding that in October 1689, the council made preparations for the maintenance of two troops of horse sent to quarter in Brechin that winter, likely to keep the friends of the bishop in order; and the military seem to have been continued in the burgh for some time, for in 1695 the commissioner to the Convention of Burghs is directed “ to make moyan to get off the thrie companys of foott sojers presently quartered at this place/' On 21st August 1690, we have recorded by the session that there was “ no sermon on the Lord’s-day, by reason of the armies coming into the town ; " and the burgh registers show that in the following September Lord Cardross, Lord Belhaven, and a number of gentlemen, officers in General McKay's troops, were entered burgesses—a compliment likely intended to propitiate the Government of King William, and bestowed on these persons when in Brechin. Soon afterwards other officers are admitted to the same honour, amongst whom is a Dutchman named Gerardus van Catenburgh. Possibly, as James Earl Panmure was a high cavalier, the quartering of troops in Brechin was the more necessary. At any rate it would appear that Lord Panmure and the council were then not of one mind, for his lordship appointed James Cowie not only to be bailie and his justiciar and constable within the burgh, but he gave him power to sit and affix courts and choose all necessary members of court, and to uplift and receive the fines and bluidwits, thus claiming for Bailie Cowie a power superior to, and independent of, the other magistrates; and that too contrary to the arrangement made between the town and the family of Panmure in 1635, and agreement following thereupon in 1637. The council resisted and appealed to his Lordship, who issued another deputation “ in the old and ordinary form,” and matters then went on as smoothly as usual. Mr Francis Molison, who sue-ceeded Bailie Cowie as justiciar, was the first member of council who took the oaths to the new Government; and having brought a letter certifying this fact from Mr James Muddie, member of Parliament for Montrose, and bailie of that burgh, Molison then administered these oaths to the other members of council.

In 1691, David Falconer, Esquire of Newton, attempted to establish a fair at the North Water Bridge, in opposition to the great fairs held by the burgh in Trinity Muir. This was an encroachment on the rights of the city not to be tolerated; and accordingly the burgesses dispersed the laird of Newton’s friends by main force. For this some twenty or thirty of the inhabitants were cited before the privy council as guilty of riot; but the case was taken up by the town council, manfully resisted for years, and finally carried in favour of the good town. In commemoration of this victory, the burgesses, when they were wont to “take in the market," or open the fair, used to ride to the North Water Bridge, cut a besom of birch there, and bring it to the cross of Brechin with them, in evidence that they had boldly swept the road of all encumbrances. A good deal of fun and humour prevailed on these occasions. It was deemed an honour to carry the besom, but an honour which must be bought; and all the burgesses present at the North Water Bridge were expected to bid for the honour, commencing with the oldest and going down to the youngest, and to the youngest generally the honour was consigned, as a second bode was not expected from any person. The last time when the market was thus opened was in 1823. On this, perhaps the last occasion of the kind, the besom was bought and borne by Mr William Sharpe, then surgeon in Brechin, afterwards a bailie of the burgh. We remember with no small pleasure the delight which we took in our boyhood in witnessing the horsemen surrounding the ring at the cross, the riders and animals decorated with birks; and we have a little pride in recollecting that in maturer years, we were called on to prepare and superintend the programme of this mighty affair—more profitable matters have not given us more pleasure. Might not the marches be yet ridden, or the market “taken in” occasionally, for the amusement of such burgess bairns as ourselves?

Most of our readers will be acquainted, “practically,” with the Little Mill stairs, a lane leading from the High Street down a precipitous bank, and by an alley overshadowed with trees, to the river Esk—altogether a romantic walk, affording a beautiful view of the church of Brechin, with a peep of Brechin Castle; and, although lying in the middle of the town, having all the stillness and rural scenery of a remote country situation. On the south side of the point where the lane leaves the High Street is a rising, which was formerly called the Mealhill; and at the foot of this rising was a mill for grinding meal, driven by water taken from the Den Burn, into a reservoir at the place still called the Dam Acre, and then brought by a runlet through the town and precipitated down the steep bank to drive the Little Mill. This Little Mill, like minor states, was finally swallowed up by its larger neighbour the Meikle Mill; and in September 1693 the council, finding the Little Mill then useless, directed it to be converted into a waulk-mill, which also was ultimately abolished and the site reduced into garden ground. On the occasion of the conversion of the Little Mill into a waulk-mill, the lane passing down the ravine was causewayed, or pitched, as our “ancient enemies of England ” term it; and agreeably to the orders of the magistrates, “ two or three steps of” broad quarry stones were laid immediately beneath where the Little Mill stood, where George Matthie has now a dwelling-house and weaving-shop, “in respect of the straightness of the passage there.” Recently the steps have been enlarged, the causeway removed, and a comfortable road formed, leading down to the river.

Mr Harry Maule of Kellie, of whom we have before spoken, was at this time the parliamentary commissioner for Brechin; and in April 1693, Bailie Francis Molison is appointed to go to Edinburgh to meet Mr Maule and to endeavour to procure a ratification of the grant made to the burgh at the time of the abolition of Episcopacy in 1640 of the feu-duties belonging to the bishop; to resist any attempt made by Mr Falconer of Newton to procure a right of holding a market at the North Water Bridge; and to endeavour to get all Saturday and Monday markets abolished—the last being an object with the religious part of the community to prevent encroachments on the Sabbath, and to which object the attention of the town council of Brechin was repeatedly directed. Mr Molison was successful in all his commissions. In virtue of an Act of Parliament obtained in 1695, the town council have now right to all the feu-duties previously belonging to the bishop; and the greatest part of the burgh owns the town council as their superiors or over-lords, either in virtue of this grant or of other titles belonging to the community. On 17th July 1695 also our Sovereign Lord, with advice and consent of the Estates of Parliament, statutes and ordains that in all time coming there be a free fair settled and established yearly upon the Mure of Brechine called Trinity Mure, to begin the first Wednesday of August and continue eight days.” Under this authority the present Lammas fair is held, which, however, is now limited to the second Thursday of August yearly.

In the year 1693 also, which seems to have been one of no little business, an Act of council was passed, prohibiting any of the councillors from revealing what passed at the council table, under the penalty of loss of their office of councillors, and of being found incapable of holding any public office within the burgh, besides being fined in a sum of £20 Scots. The year 1833 saw the affairs of the council board made patent to the public.

The marches of the burgh property continued to be a source of trouble in the seventeenth century, and they are still some trouble in the nineteenth. After several minutes in regard to giving off to Mr John Carnegy of Cookston part of the Loan (uncultivated land) near that property, we find this gentleman and his son differing with some members of council on the subject, and almost taking masterful possession of the burgh. A minute dated 27th January 1694, (Saturday,) appoints Bailie Alexander Young and Mr George Spence, town-clerk, to “take journey for Edinburgh on Monday next by five o'clock in the morning ” to attend to a complaint preferred to the Privy Council by Cookston against the town council of Brechin and a number of the inhabitants. The next entry in the council books is dated 29th January 1694, which we find was a Monday, “5 hours forenoon” that is, five o'clock morning—an hour at which we fear few of our modem councillors would choose to be called from their couches to attend to council matters; but an hour, early as it is, at which we find most of the councillors present. A formidable minute is then made, and Bailie Molison, who appears to have been absent from the former sederunt, is conjoined with Bailie Young and Mr Spence in the Edinburgh commission. The record narrates minutely that young Carnegy had, four years previously, struck Alexander Low, a burgess, in his own house “ betwixt ten and twelve hours at night,” and had broke Bailie Cowie’s cart, and therewith forced open his outer gate, then his hall door and the windows of his dwelling-house, and, finally, fired a gun at the worthy bailie when standing at his own window; and that Carnegy, being imprisoned for this riot, had broke the jail and come out of it with a cocked pistol and drawn sword ; for all which he is directed to be prosecuted. But the minute holds out the olive wreath, provided the bailies and town-clerk can agree with Cookston regarding the Loan ; and we rather infer that such agreement had been made, for next day “James Carnegy, younger of Cookston.’ is created an honorary burgess along with some officers and other gentlemen, and we hear no more of the matter. Subsequently, however, we notice that this gentleman was as contumacious towards the kirk courts as towards the civil authorities ; and the session finding it impossible to procure any one bold enough to cite him before them for an alleged breach of discipline, were in 1707 obliged to apply to the presbytery to take up the case and to send officers from Montrose to execute the warrants.

The African Company planned by William Paterson, a Scotchman, for the colonisation of the isthmus of Darien, met with many supporters in Brechin. This Paterson was the person who first suggested the idea of the Bank of England, and afterwards of the Bank of Scotland, but he was excluded from any share in these wealthy concerns by men of greater influence. Paterson then turned his attention to the colonisation of the neck of land connecting the two great continents of North and South America, and after beating about for supporters, was finally, by the assistance of Fletcher of Saltoun, enabled to procure an Act of Parliament incorporating a company by the name of “The Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the West Tndies,” 'with power to plant colonies, build forts, and govern the country to be colonised. There is little doubt the scheme would have proved successful, if King William had not, with that cool-blooded policy which disgraced his other qualities, thrown every obstacle in the way of the settlers of Darien, and ultimately left them to perish of hunger, lest the colony should prove a rival to the English East India Company. But at the outset the Scottish nation saw no difficulties. A mania prevailed for subscribing into the stock of the company, and the people of Brechin were infected by it. The council gave£100 from the common good; and because no less sum was received by the company than £100, the books of the town council were laid open that the burgesses and the incorporations might subscribe such sums as they pleased, for which stock was to be bought in name of the magistrates for behoof of the subscribers. Accordingly very many availed themselves of this privilege; the guildry incorporation subscribed £50, 13 ladies gave £95, and 28 gentlemen £455, and no less than £700 went from Brechin to this unfortunate concern. To propitiate the people of Scotland towards the Union, a fund was set aside from the public purse to make good the stock of the company when England and Scotland were made one kingdom, by Act of Parliament, so that ultimately the shareholders lost nothing.

Previous to this period, any very special Act of the town council was subscribed by all the members of council, and queer subscriptions occasionally they made, but ordinary Acts were not subscribed at all, the mere engrossing in the council record being deemed sufficient proof that they were the resolutions of the council In 1696, an Act was made and subscribed by all the members of council, declaring that in future the subscription of the preses of the meeting should be sufficient to authenticate the minutes, and in 1698 the resolution was renewed; but notwithstanding of this, the old practice was persevered in till 1700, when Mr John Doig became provost. A similar practice prevailed amongst the different incorporations, and even the records of the kirk-session are not better authenticated.

The town’s privileges being ratified in Parliament in 1695, the - council of 1696, on the motion of Bailie Alexander Young, resolved that a provost should in future be elected, agreeable to the charters in favour of the burgh, and the resolution was subsequently followed up by the election of Mr Young to that office, since which time a provost has been annually chosen. This measure was succeeded by an attempt to gain precedence for the town's bailie over the bailie nominated by Lord Panmure, but after some sparring with his lordship, the council wisely enacted that in future the bailie selected by Lord Panmure should, in virtue of the resolution then adopted by the council, have the precedency.

In 1697 the tolbooth was repaired, and a resolution adopted to repair the schoolhouse and cross, and to apply to the Convention of Burghs for money to assist in these measures. What cash, if any, was given, does not appear, but next year the council borrowed 1000 merks to assist the public purse in executing the repairs on the jail.

The Common Den, which now, under the superintendence of Messrs Henderson, nurserymen, forms so beautiful a prospect from Southesk Street, formed in our young eyes no less pleasing an object when covered with the turf nature had bestowed upon it, and decked with the daisies and buttercups of nature’s planting. The braes are beautiful, covered with dahlias, roses, and other equally lovely plants, but the Bonnie-brae was truly bonnie with the gowans glinting out amongst the short thick grass, before Messrs Henderson put spade into the soil to convert it into a nursery. We repine not. The Den is improved. It is a source of revenue to the town, and affords healthy employment for many of its inhabitants, and were it restored to its wonted wild state, we could not bicker up and down the braes as formerly, or leap, one after another, as in days gone by, the many wimples which were then in the burn, now covered over, nor toss our dyed and hard-boiled eggs with the same zest we did of yore. But we wander from our point. What we meant to say was, that in April 1698, an Act of council was made appointing 40s. Scots to be paid yearly for each animal grazed on the Common Den, which appears to have been always appropriated for the pasturage of cattle belonging to the burgesses, and that out of the sums thus raised, £32 Scots were first to be paid to the town, then a proper salary to the herd, and the ba- „ lance, if any, to be handed over to the town-treasurer for the public use. The town’s herd was a man of no little consequence. Each morning, at an appointed hour, he went through the town blowing his horn, a cow s horn, when every burgess who had a right of pasture, sent out his horse or cow; and away stalked the animals from the one port to the other, gathering their fellows as they went, and followed by their noisy herdsman, who turned them all in at the foot of the Common Den, pastured them up to and out at the top, and returned them to their respective masters and mistresses at mid-day, to be again gathered out for afternoon pasture, and sent home by sound of horn in the evening. The volume of the records of the Hammermen Incorporation, previously alluded to, contains an entry, under date 11th April 1580, bearing that the bailies and council had elected Walter Erskine to be common herd till All-hallow day next, and therefore requesting all concerned to deliver their nolt into his custody, “as use is.” In 1580 there is an Act of council ordaining the Common Den to be “hained” from 11th May to Midsummer day, from the Gallowgate at the north to the road leading to Montrose at the south, and no cattle to be allowed to be pastured thereon, evidently with the view of improving the grass. This practice of common pasture, with slight variation, continued till 1805, when the exclusive right of pasture was let by public roup to the highest bidder, by way of a tentative measure to wean the public from the practice of common pasturage ; and after two or three such lettings, the Common Den was let in 1813 to the late Mr John Henderson, senior, and by him converted into a nursery. For some years previous to the Den being let for exclusive pasturage, the money collected from those who used the ground for common pasturage scarce paid the wages of the herd employed to take charge of the cattle; and some burgesses even kept cattle without lawfully providing any other food for them than what was picked up by the animals from this common pasturage. The letting of the Den for a term of years was one of the first measures which improved the revenue of the town; the letting of the bleachfield and mills for a series of years, in place of giving them off, as had long been the custom, on triennial leases, was the next great step which increased the income of the burgh.


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