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Culross and Tulliallan
Chapter X. The Burgh Records of Culross from 1657 to 1659


THE town council minutes again become available in 1652, and from this period continue in unbroken succession down to the present day. With the end of the first half of the seventeenth century a sad and lasting change has come over the destinies of Culross. The day of her fame and prosperity has passed away, never to return, though she still continues to hold a respectable position, and to exhibit in her history much that is well worthy of study and consideration. And she contrives also, as we shall see, to recover somewhat from the deplorable condition to which, in common with the rest of Scotland, she had been reduced by the great Civil War.

That war had, at the period when these records recommence, nearly ceased. Cromwell, by his successive victories at Dunbar, Inverkeithing, and Worcester, had accomplished the task of reducing Great Britain to his sway, and his authority both in England and Scotland was almost undisputed. In the latter country he was endeavouring to effect an incorporation of the national institutions with those of England—or rather, I should say, to make English principles and laws paramount—and thus ensure a uniform system of government for the whole island. H(owever well-intentioned he might be in this respect, and however useful might be many of the reforms that he introduced, it is certain that he proceeded far too much on the rough-and-ready lines of the autocrat; stirred up, by his ruthless disregard of their national feelings, the prejudices, both patriotic and religious, of the Scottish people; and paved the way ultimately for the restoration, shortly after his death, of the Stewarts—an event which, for the inhabitants of North Britain at all events, was fraught with much misery. Adopting even the most exalted estimate of his character that can be urged by the most devoted of his admirers, it will probably not be disputed that Cromwell’s ideas were at least considerably in advance of his age; and their enforcement in legislative practice could not fail in many instances to be otherwise than eminently distasteful. Not the least obnoxious of his -measures was the imposition of heavy assessments for the maintenance of his army, which was quartered in detachments throughout Scotland.

Here is recorded a special grievance in the form of a “ requisition,” which seems to have occasioned an immense amount of inconvenience to the inhabitants of Culross. Castle Campbell, for the use of whose garrison such a serious amount of bedding was demanded as detailed below, lies about ten miles north of Culross in a direct line, and is romantically situated on a plateau in a gorge of the Ochils, behind what was in those days merely the little village of Dollar. On a clear day it is distinctly visible from the high ground above Culross Abbey. It then belonged to the Earl of Argyll, and had a few years before been burned by Montrose, in revenge, as is alleged, of the destruction of the “ bonnie house o’ Airlie,” in Forfarshire, the family mansion of the Ogilvies, by Argyll and his troops. Doubtless it would be rather in a dismantled condition when taken possession of by Cromwell's soldiers, who, however valiant they might be in battle; seem to have had little of the Spartan element in their composition, as far as sleeping arrangements were concerned:—

“26 Deer. 1653.

“The qlk day, in presence of the saids bailleis and counsell, compeired certaine Inglyshe trouperis of the garizone of Castle Campbell, who, being commandit be the govemour there to repair to Culrois with certaine footmen of that garizone to receave furth of the said burgh the number of 22 fether beddis, with twentie-two fether boll-sters, 44 fether coddis,1 44 pair sheittis, 44 pair blankettis, and 22 coverings, for the use of the souldieris within the garizone, conforme to ane order direct from Collonell Eeid, governor of Stirling, to them for that effect; and qlk ordour being red and considered be the said bailleis and counsell, and they having taken the samyne to their consideration, they thought it fitt and expedient that ilk 3 Scottis of cess sould reckone ane bed with the fumitor in manner foresaid. The persones names that are appoyntit to furnishe out the beds with the furniter furth of the severall quarteris of this burgh followeth.” [The names follow of the persons thus assessed through the respective quarters of the town.]

“The qlk bedis was transported furthe of [torn away] for Castell Cambell this day, except Thomas [tom away] Jonet Prymrois beds, qlk decreit till to be delyverit,

&c. [illegible and tom away].”

In a week after the despatch of the beds—that is to say, on 2d January 1654—one of the town councillors is ordered on a mission to Perth, for the double purpose of conveying thither the cess or tribute-money, which was now a fortnight in arrear, and of making a remonstrance on the subject of the requisition by the garrison of Castle Campbell. Another councillor reports the same day, that he had already been twice there for the purpose of obtaining a receipt for these articles from the governor or officer in command, but finding that the latter'was absent in Stirling, his expedition had been fruitless. He is, however, desired to proceed again to the Castle, and to set out on his journey early the following inoming. Two days afterwards he reappears before the council with a dismal account of the cavalier treatment he had received from the governor, who positively refused to grant a receipt, on the allegation that the beds had not arrived in proper time, and that, at all events, he must first be paid a sum of money which he had demanded by letter from the town of Culross. In great perplexity the magistrates resolve to send yet another messenger to endeavour to bring this military autocrat to reason.

This last envoy succeeds in his object, and procures a receipt for the beds, but, before getting it, is compelled to pay 15s. sterling of smart-money (worth nearly five guineas at the present day) on behalf of the soldiers of the garrison.

On 31st January 1654, William Drysdaill and Thomas Dunbar are appointed commissioners to go again to Stirling about the business of the beds supplied to the garrison of Castle Campbell. There is scarcely anything recorded in the minute-books which seems to have disturbed the town more, or gave more trouble and annoyance to the town council, than this requisition, which was probably also enforced in a very imperious and unfeeling way. We can imagine the consternation and confusion occasioned in Culross by the receipt of this extraordinary “ Christmas-box ” (it will be remembered that the demand was first intimated on 26th December 1653), and the appearance in the council chamber of a band of grim “booted apostles,” though possibly of less savage disposition than the Scottish nation found in after-days in Claverhouse’s dragoons.

The troopers from Castle Campbell had made themselves comfortable in Culross. In a minute of 6th February we find that “the counsell hes appoyntit 8, 5s. Scottis to be given to Jonet Tom-son, spous to Jon. Bumsyd, 4, 5s. whereof in satis-factione of her compt for furnishing of meat and drink to the Inglish on that day they came for the beds, and 4 wherof of payment of her husband’s compt.” the alarm of a French invasion in the first years of the present century, a fort of modern construction was erected on the rocks, and forms a prominent object in the scenery of the Forth at this place.

"9 Octr. 1654.

“The qlk day the bailleis and counsell having taken to consideratioue the great necessitie thair is in seeking res-toratione of the fether beds that went furthe of this burghe to the garizone of Garvie, from the governor of Leithe, where they presentlie or, in respect of the shyfting of the said garizone of Garvie; thairfor they have nnanimouslie condescendit and agreed unto, that the said Johne Mer-toun goe over to Leithe as commissioner for them to the effect foresaid, and that he mak his adres there with all convenience."

The burgh is still greatly exercised regarding the feather beds sent to Castle Campbell, the burden of supplying which it considered should be shared with the town by the heritors and others in the parish living beyond the municipal boundaries. After much wrangling it succeeded ultimately in enforcing its claims.

“5 January 1655.

"The said day the said baillies and counsell have ap-poyntit and ordanit Wm. Drysdaill to goe to Dunfermling to the governour there, for requyring bak againe of the fether beds taken to Garvie; and Johne Mertoun is ap-poyntit to goe with him, and that they repair thither against Wednesday next.”

The fleshers and boatmen of Culross become troublesome, and are called to order:—

“21 May 1655.

“The qlk day thair being represents before the saids baillies and counsell that the fleshers of this burghe dothe great abuse within the samyne, that when any strangeris upone ane mercat day or other dayes comes to this burghe for doing of their lawfull effeirs and bussines, that they no sooner seing ane strangeris dog but that they presentlie hund or cause be hundit their great flesher dogs at thame, to the great hurt and skaithe alreadie done to severall per-sones and baimes within this burghe; thairfor to prevent, &a” (penalties assigned). . , .

“Moreover, wheras the saids bailleis and counsell, taking to consideratione the frequent and continewall resorting and reparing of outland flesheris1 to this mercat upon mercat dayes with fleshes, to the weill, proffeit, and behooff of this burghe, till of lait; that they have withdrawene themselves, and does not so frequentlie come as they was in vse to do, and qlk is thought to be throw the of the flesheris of this burghe their girring, tanting, and mocking of them, and qlk tends greatlie to the damnage and skeathe of the persons and inhabitants within the said burghe, in seiking suche heighe pryces for their flesh as they do; and the saids bailleis and counsel,, being ryplie advyset in the said business, they have ordanit, &c.” (protection is promised to the “outland flesheris*).

“The said dpy, their being represented befor the saids bailleis and counsell the great wrong and injurie committed be James Miller and Robert Cowstoun, boatmen within this burghe, in their refusing of dewtie to strangers and other persones within this burghe, in not transporting them over to the other syd, wind and wather fairlie serving them for that effect, unles they get what they demand in ane extraordirjer way: Thairfor the saids bailleis and counsell, for preventing the lyk in tyme coming, have statut and ordanit that they nor nane of them presume to refuse to transport any stranger or other persone within this burghe, upon their laill1 and honest occasions, for payment to them of ane shilling sterling; certifieing thame that if they or any of them refuses to goe over upone the conditions aforsaid, that they sail incure ane unlaw of 20, and their scullis to be taken from their boatis, ay and how often the samyne sail be swa refused, laill advisement being given to the saids baillies theranent”

A shilling sterling, equal in value to about 5s. at the present day, seems rather a high rate to pay for crossing the Firth of Forth from Culross to Borrowstounness, a distance of little more than three miles. But travelling, which is now so cheap and general, was in ancient times an expensive luxury, when so few stirred from home unless when compelled by necessary business. It will be observed that in those town council minutes belonging to the days of Cromwell’s rSgime, money is frequently computed by the sterling rather than the Scottish standard. This would seem to have been one of the results of the Protector’s scheme for establishing a general uniformity in civil administration throughout Great Britain.

Mr Duncan, the minister of the first charge, having died about this time, the town council exert themselves in endeavouring to procure a successor for the vacancy. As already mentioned, Mr Matthew Fleming was ultimately appointed.

“2 July 1655.

“The qlk day the saids baillies and counsell, be pluralitie of voices, have continewed and continewes George Wilsoun and Wm. Pearsoun commissioneris, to goe to the Synod, that is to meat and convene at Cupar in Fyff, the 3 of July 1655, for giving ane call to Mr Johne Rig, minister at Porten-craig, for supleing the cure at the Kirk of Culrois, now vacand throw the deceis Mr Jon. Duncan, minister therat”

Here is a sumptuary edict regarding “brydellis”:

“10 Septr. 1655.

"The said day the saids baillieis and counsell of this burghe, taking to consideratione the great abuse that formerly hes been used and practised at biydellis, and the great and exorbitant pryces taken be the makeris therof in tymes bygane, qlk is ane great and hie exactione put upone the people of this burghe: Thairfor, for preventing the lyk in tyme comeing, the saids bailleis and counsell hes statut and ordanit that no persone nor persones within this burghe, nor libertie therof, presume nor tak upon thame, under quhatsomever culler or pretext, to exact, craive, nor receave from no persone nor persones that sail happen to convene at brydellis within this burghe and libertie therof, mor nor 6s. 8d. from ilk persone that sail happene to be therat, for their brydell lawing, and that they mak guid and sufficient cheir therefor, suche as guid beiff and muttoun, rosted and sodden; and that no infralitie, miscariage, or abuse be vsed at the said brydellis; and the persone who sail happene to contravene this present Act is ordanit to pay ane unlaw of toties guoties ”

On 10th October 1655, Alexander Bruce, probably the brother of the Earl of Kincardine, and who afterwards succeeded him as second earl of that title, is chosen provost of Culross, and his name appears at the top of the list of the new bailies and councillors elected for the ensuing year, 1656. On the 8th of October he had been “ admitted and receavit be the whoill counsell to be one of the members therof.”

Here is a curious edict compelling the members of council to wear hats :—

“15 Octr. 1655.

“The said day, whereas it was appoyntit and ordanit be one of the last references of counsell, that none of the persons that war to sitt in counsell in tyme coming sould come without ane hatt therunto, and that under the paine of twelf shillings Scottis; and it being found be the said provost, bailleis, and counsell that there was of thair number that had transgressed the said Act be bringing bonnettis and caps instead of hatts, and the mater being takin to consideratione, they, be considerations moving them, have pardonit and forgiven the persons transgressors of the said Act, upone consideratione they nor no other of the counsell do the lyk in tyme comeing; and that no ignorance be pre-tendit heruntill, the said provost, baillieis, and counsell have statut and ordanit that whosoever of the counsell that sail come to the samyne, not having ane hatt upon his head, sail pay ane vnlaw of twelf shillings Scottis—nawayes to be forgiven, but the samyne to be presentlie exactit.”

Another Act of the same date appoints the town-officers, and prescribes their duties and emoluments.

The two following extracts are interesting as the earliest reference in the existing burgh records of Culross to the establishment of a post:—

“29 October 1655.

“The said day it is ordanit that tryall be maid of ane honest man within this burghe for being of ane common post, qlk is to be remembered the next counsell day.”

"Act concerning ane Poste.

“The same day the saids bailleis and counsell, taking to consideratione how neidfull and expedient it was to have ane commoun poste, of ane guid and honest reputatione, within this burghe, setled upone for goeing and reparing to Edinburgh, and bak againe therefra, upone urgent and nec-essar occasions, wherintill he might be imployed with letters and other things, qlk might prove verie advantageous to siche as sould have ado that way: Thairfor the saids bailleis and counsell, upon mature deliberatione, have pitched and condescendit upon ane honest man, Johne Simsone, merchand, burges of Culrois, to be their commoun poste from Edinburgh and bak againe; and have ordanit that the said commoun poste goe furthe of this burghe everie wek vpon Twysday, be nyne houris in the momyng, to the said burgh of Edinburgh, and that he returne bak againe therefra to this burgh the samyne wek upon Thursday, lykways be nyne houris in the mornyng, and that weiklie and ilk weik during the space of ane quarter of ane yeir fra his entrie, qlk is herby declarit to be and begin upone Twysday come eight dayes, being the fourth day of December next to come; and also have ordanit that quhatsomever persone or persones sail have any letter or other commoditie to send to Edinburgh, that the samyne persons come to James Craiche, present thesaurer of the burghe of Culrois, and delyver the samyne letters and commodities to him, with two shillings Scottis money1 for ilk letter, and six pennies 2 for the weyht of commodities that sail happene to be delyverit to him, and that this be done befor the said day of the said commoun poste his goeing away furthe of this burghe to the said burghe of Edinburgh, to the effect the samyne letters and commodities may be delyverit be the said thesaurer to him in dew tyme, that no slip nor hindrance may be maid in his away going at the dyet aforesaid; of the qlk service the said Johne Simsone, being present, did accept for the cans under-writtene, and gave his eathe to be faithfull thairintill in discharging ane dewtie in maner above specifeit; and that he sould be comptabill and answerabill to the saids bailleis and counsell of this burghe of any sowme of money that he sail happene to receave during the tyme of his service as ane payit for letteris or other commoditie, the samyne being under ten pund weight; and if the commoditie be above the samyne, the said bailleis and counsell hes heirby con-descendit that the benefit therof sail redound to himself: For the qlk causes the said John Simpsone is to receave threttie shillings Scottis money—to witt, auchtene shillings Scottis from the thesaurer of this burghe, and ane shilling sterling from David Mitchell, chalmerland to the Earle of Kyncame, in name of the said nobill earle—and that weiklie fra his entrie to his service during the tyme aforsaid.”

The following entry has reference to a skirmish that seems to have taken place about this time in the neighbourhood of Culross :—

"10 December 1655.

“The said day, in presence of the saids bailleis and counsell, George Bennet, efter being examined befor thame anent the lynning that was bought for the use of the killed men above the town for winding thame thairintill, and what was done therewith—the said George confessit that there was onlie one winding sheet disponit upone, and for the remender of the lynning, he did sell at Wm. Pearsone, baillie, his directione, for such ane pryce as he could gett convenientlie therefor, and declarit that the elne therof was sold for 10s. Scottis the elne; and that the said 4,10s,, qlk was the full pryce therof in keiping, qlk he was willing to pay upon demand: Thairfor the saids baillieis and counsell ordanit him to pay the samyne whenever he sould be


The Sand Haven and Townhouse of Culross.


CULROSS from the High Path behind the Town.

Next we have some enactments regarding the pier, and the flesh-market:—

“10 December 1655.

“The same day the saids bailleis and counsell, finding that the pear of this burghe will in short tyme become rewinous and unprofitable if the samyne be not helped and repared: Thairfor, for helping, of the samyne in tyme comeing, they have appoyntit and ordanit that the shoir dewtie of this burgh be reservit thairfor; and it being reported in counsell that John Bumsyd had severall great stones within his ship now lying at the peir, qlk he had transported from Sainct Andrews for ballast to his ship, qlk might be conducing for guid of the pear in reparing therof, and for exporting of the samyne furthe of the said ship, the bailleis and counsell appoyntis Johne Burnsyd topitche upone such persones as he sail find most meit therefor, and the town to pay thame their wages.”

“24 December 1655.

“The said day the saids baillieis and counsell, taking to consideratione how vndecent and vncomelie it is to sie the carcases of beiff lying upone the mercat croce of this burghe upone ordinarie mercat dayes, and other fleshes hinging and laying about the samyne, nawayes accustomat in vthir burghes within this natione; and finding that that land laitlie acquyrit be William Adame from Sara Blaw, qlk is fenced about with ane stane dyk, would be ane fitt and convenient pairt for keiping ane fleshe mercat within this burgh weiklie be the flesheris within the samyne, that all flesh might be removed from the croce in tyme therefter: Thairfor the saids baillieis and counsell hes appoyntit David Mitchell and Wm. Diysdaill to sound the said Wm. Adame, to sie whether or not he will sell the forsaid ground upon ane reaasonabill pryce to the magistrate of this burghe for the vse above writtene, and thet they report their diligence theranent the next counsell day.”

Besides the ordinary trouble experienced by the magistrates in suppressing the “middlings/’ a new phase of the institution presents itself, threatening to convert the streets of the town into a general manufactory of manure:—

“11 February 1656.

“The said day the said baillieis and counsell, having taken to their consideration the great abuse that is used and practized within this burghe be severall of the inhabitants within the samyne, be casting and making up of muck mid-dings in the streatis and passageis within this burghe, as also be casting down of strea upon the said streatis and wayis of this burghe to mak fulzie and muck of, qlk is altogether unkent, nawayes vsed nor practized in vther burghes within this natione: Thairfor, for preventing of the lyk in tyme coming, the saids bailleis and counsell have statut and ordanit that no persone nor persones within this burghe nor libertie therof presume nor tak upon thame to lay doun any muck middings, or cast doun strae for making of muck, upone any of the hie streatis, wayis, or passages of this burghe, to the vndecencie of strangeris or other persons repairing thairthrow, in no tyme hierefter; and that all suche persones as hes any middings of muck or strae castin doun in any of the hie streatis or passageis of this burghe, that they transport and remove the samyne within twentie-four hours efter intiraatione hierof; and if any person or persons sail happene to contravene this present Act, the said baillieis and counsell hes ordanit thame to pay ane unlaw of 10 how oft and swa oft the samyne sall

The following extracts are interesting, both as furnishing a specimen of the manners of “ Young Culross ” in the middle of the seventeenth century, and as showing that glass come by this time into common use for windows. It will be remembered that in the case of Bessie Bar’s house, a substantial burgher’s mansion in the end of the preceding century, the windows were provided only with “ brods ” and iron stanchions:—

“3 March 1656.

“The said day Johne Horne’s sone, Wm. Midletoun, sone to Johne Midletoun, and James Penisone, sone to the deceist Penisone, cordiner, burger of Culrois, being con- ' veanit befor the said bailleis and counsell for breking of the glaswindowes of those housis pertaining to Katharine Prestoun, spous to Robert Thompsone of Balbowgie, lyand in the Calsy gait of Culrois, and of the glaswindowis of vther housis within the said burghe, and efter the breking therof in taking of the lead therof away with thame; . . and the said busines being taken to consideratione be the saids bailleis and counsell, they have found thame culpabill and guyltie of the forsaid fact: Thairfor they have unanimouslie ordanit that Johne Home pay for his sone thrie punds Scottis, and that John Robiesone pay for his good-sone,1 Ja. Penisone, 40s. And for William Midletoun, his mother and he, as also the parentis of the other two persons, ar ordanit to remayne in ward during the bailleis pleasure, by and attour the payment of the forsaid sowmes; and siklyk statu tis and ordains that if any such fait sail be committed be thame or any of thame, or any other persone or persons within this burghe in any tyme heirefter, the committaris therof ar to be benyshed and removed furthe of this toun, and never to come therintill therefter; and that by and attour any pecuniall fyne may be exacted from the parentis at the bailleis their pleasure.”

“10 April 1656.

“The said day Peter Prymrbis, being convenit befor the counsell this day, and lykwayes his sone, for ane certaine wrong done and committit be him in breking of glaswin-does in the Abay and in the Earle of Kyncardine his lie; qlk was ordanit to be remembered the next counsell day.”

Though the case against Peter Primrose is brought up again on 28th April, it is again adjourned, and nothing further recorded of it. The “ Abay ” is doubtless the mansion erected by the first Lord Kinloss, and the “lie” is the building attached to the church, which contains the monument of Sir George Bruce, the ancestor of the Kincardine family, and in the wall of which also was deposited the heart of the second Lord Edward Bruce of Kinloss.

Some curious entries relative to the prosecution of a witch are next presented :—

“23 June 1656.

“In presence of the said bailleis and counsell, compeared personallie Master Robert Edmonstoun, minister at Culrois, and declared the last weik befor the last wek, he being in Edinburgh anent the adhering to the call of Master Matthew Fleyming to the work of the ministrie of this congregatione, and having maid diligent tryall at the clerk of the criminail court and others what course might be taken with Elspethe Craiche, presentlie lying within the tolbuthe of Culrois as ane witche voluntarlie confesst be herself, he declared that except murder or malison could be provin against such persons, thair was no putting of thame to deathe; yet the said Maister Robert being most desyrous that one of the foresaid number of the counsell sould goe over to Edinburgh, and tak over the said Elspethe her declaration and confessions, and to cause pen ane petitione in relatione therof, and the said mater being taken to consideratione, and being ryplie advysit therwith, the saids bailleis and counsell be pluralitie of voices have electit and chosen William Drys-daill to goe over to Edinburgh against Twysday come eight dayes, being the first day of July, being ane criminall court day, to present the supplication befor the judges there for granting of ane commission to put the said witche to the knowledge of ane assyse, and to report his diligence theranent.”

“30 June 1656.

"The qlk day, in presence of the said bailleis and counsell, conforme to the commissione grantit to him the last counsell day anent the petitioning for ane commissione to put Elspethe Craiche, witche, to the knowledge of an assyse, maid report, that he being unsatisfied with the clerk of the criminall court his answer to him anent the procuring of the said commission, he therefter went to the right Honorable Generali George Monk; who having related to him the poore condition of this burghe, how that they war not abill to transport the said witche over to Edinburgh, and to be at the great expense that they behovit to be at in attending upone her there, the said Generali desyred the said William to draw up ane petitione, and present the samyne befor the counsell of estait upone Twysday next; who accordinglie drew up ane supplicatione at Alexr. Bruce his directione, and left the samyne with George Mitchell, to be written over be him; and becaus the said Wm. had brought over the said Elspethe her confessions, the samyne was appoyntit to be send over, to the effect bothe they and the supplication may be presentit befor the said counsell of estait against the morrow.”

It would appear that the application of the Culross minister and magistrates had been ineffectual to procure any assistance from the Council of State in Edinburgh towards either getting Elspeth Craich tried and condemned in Culross, or transporting her for that purpose to Edinburgh. Cromwell’s government was not favourable to religious persecution of any kind, whether as regards heresy or sorcery. The following entry is almost ludicrous, from the woe-begone demonstration made therein by the town council, who have no other resource left than to get rid of their expensive prisoner as speedily as possible. It is satisfactory to find that the poor woman had at least been tolerably well supplied with meat and drink, whatever other sufferings she may have undergone :—

“25 August 1656.

“The said day the saids bailleis and counsell, taking to consideratione the great trouble that hath been susteaned be the inhabitants of this burgh in watching of Eppie Craich, witch, within thaire tolbuthe this quarter of this year bygane, and the great expens that this burgh is at for the present in susteanyng and interteanyng her in bread and drink and vther necessaris, and finding it to be expedient to dismis hir furthe of the [tom away] upone her finding of cautione to present her to prissone whenever [torn away] sail be requyred, under the pane of 500 merkis: Thairfor, in presence [tom away] the said Elspethe Craiche . . . to be dismist . . . tolbuthe, and befor that tyme ... to be presentit befor the kirk-sessione of Culrois.” [The latter part of this entry is in a sadly dilapidated state in the minute-book.]

On 1st August 1656, a proclamation is entered in the minute-book, issued in the name of “ Oliver, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of the dominions thereto belonging, to the shireff of the sheriffdom of Strive-ling,” for the election of a representative of the burghs of Linlithgow, Queensferry, Perth, Culrois, and Stirling, to sit in the Parliament to be assembled at Westminster on 17th September 1656. Cromwell is carrying out his idea of a union of the three kingdoms. During his government no Scottish Parliament seems to have sat.

The following entry is the earliest notice in these records of a matter which afterwards caused the burgh of Culross an immense amount of trouble and expense. The mill there referred to is what is still known as New Mill, and gives name to the adjoining village, in the parish of Torrybum, on the opposite side of the stream, which here separates the counties of Fife and Perth. I have already in the opening chapter described the locality. The claim thus made by the lairds of Blairhall of a right of thirlage over Culross, was stoutly but ineffectually resisted by the latter, which then endeavoured to make the best of the situation, by taking a feu-grant of the New Mill, and paying a yearly duty. But the undertaking proved equally unsuccessful, whether the mill was worked by the town for its own behoof or let out to a tacksman. Then an attempt was made to get rid of the burden by resigning the feu into the hands of the superior. This was also unsuccessful, and to a comparatively recent period a right of thirlage was maintained by the proprietor of the New Mill over Culross.

“18 August 1656.

"The said day thair was presented befor the said bailleis and counsell, direct from Thomas Bruce of Blairhall, shewing that the new mylne belonging to him was neirest and best for serving of the said burgh, and that they war his thirleris this hundrethe and half yeir, and desyring them to hant and resort to his said mylne, with their whoill comes insucken and outsucken, and to prosequite them at the law if they sould refuis; and the saidis bailleis and counsell, taking the mater to consideratione, they, upone good considerations, have continewed the giving of ane full answer to the foresaid letter till the bailleis and certaine of the counsell goe and commun with Blairhall about the bussines, — they ar to say, Alexander Bruce, Alexander Aitkene, and Wm. Hewisone, bailleis; Johne Sands and Wm. Drysdaill, counsellaris: and this is to be done with all convenient diligence.”

The “brewsteris and tavemeris" are called to account for their unkindness to strangers:—

“8 September 1656.

"The said day the saids bailleis and counsell, taking to consideration the great and manifest wrong that is done and committit be the brewsteris and tavemeris within this burghe, in wanting of ane competent number of sufficient and weill-furnished beds within their houses for the use of strangeris when they come to this burgh, and of sufficient entertiainement for thaimselves and horses in victuallis and other necessaris necessarie and expedient to be had, con-trair to the laudabill lawes of this natione, Actis of Parliament, and practiss of vther burghes, to the great prejudice of the liedges and inutilitie of the common wealthe of this burghe: In consideratione wherof the saids bailleis and counsell statutis and ordines all the brewsters of this burgh to be cited in befor the counsell the next counsell day, to prescryve and sett down ordouris to them for thair usage and accommodating of strangeris in tyme comeing.”

It appears, from a minute of 15 th September prescribing rules to the above “ taverners and brewsters,” that there were then fourteen inns or public-houses in Culross.

An entry in the council minutes, dated 29th September 1656, gives an account of the settlement, by the heritors, town council, and kirk-session, of the stipends of the ministers. It appears from this that it had been determined from the first to equalise as far as possible the incomes of the two charges, the second charge having only then been recently constituted. This state of matters continues to the present day, the stipends enjoyed by the respective incumbents being as nearly as possible equal.

The magistrates again bestir themselves in looking after the innkeepers and stablers, and the providing of proper accommodation for travellers and their horses:—

“20 October 1656.

“The said day,'in presence of the saids bailleis and counsell, compeared Donald Malloche, indweller in Culrois, who being rnterrogat be the said bailleis and counsell if he was willing to keep ane stabell and horse for accommodating of strangeris or inhabitants of this burghe when they had necessarlie ado with horse for going about their lawful effaires for reassonabill payment and satisfactione, he declared he was willing so to doe; who was desyred with all convenient diligence to go about the doing therof: and therupone the said Donald gave his faithfull promise.”

The following extract contains an account of an action brought to recover damages for non-fulfilment of a contract of service. It possesses considerable interest as showing the terms on which, in those days, a domestic servant was hired:—

“21 November 1666.

“The foresaid day, anent the claime persewed at the instance of Kichard Bennet, baxter, burges of Culrois, and Bessie Huton, his spous, against Elspeth Mar, servitrix to William Dasoun, burges of the said burghe, makand mention that for about the space of eight weiks befor the term of Martinmas last the said persewars did conduce and hyre the said Elspethe Mar to be their hyred servand for the space of half ane yeir—to witt, from Martynmas last to the terme of Witsunday next come, in the yeir of God 1657 yeiris—and did condescend and agrie with her to pay the particular fie and bountethe respective efter named,—to witt, the soume of fyve pounds Scottis money of fie; item, thrie elne of hardine, pryce of the elne aught shillings Scottis; item, ane elne of lynning, twelf shillings; item, ane pair of shoes, pryce therof twentie-four shillings; item, ane old wylie coat,1 pryce therof threttie shillings; item, ane groat Scottis, that the defender received in arles, extending the said particularis in the haill to the soume of nyne pounds fourtene shillings: and albeit it be. of veritie that the said persewars hes oft and diverse tymes requyrit and desyrit the said defender to come home to her service, nevertheless she refuses without she be compellit, as the clame in the self beiris, the said Richard Bennet, persewar, compear-and personallie in judgment, and the said defender being lawfullie sumoned to have compeared this day be the ordiner officers of this burghe, to have hard and sene decreit given and pronounced against her, and being oft and diverse tymes callit, and not compearand, lawful tyme of day abidden, the respective reassons and allegations of both the said parties being sene, red, hard, and considerit be the said bailleis, and they being weill and ryplie advysed theranent, hes declarit and ordanit the said Elspethe Mar, defender, to content and pay to the said persewar the for-said soume of nyne pounds fourtene shillings Scottis money, promisit to her of fie and bountethe, in maner as is above exprest, as for the principal, with nyne shillings six pennies money forsaid of expens of pley; and ordains the said soumes to be payed within fyftene dayes, under the panes of poynding of hir movable guids and warding of hir persone therfor. Wherupon the said Bichard Bennet, persewar, asked and tuk instruments and act of court.”

The expression “ane groat Scottis” is plainly a slip for “ ane groat sterling,” as the sums previously mentioned amount to 9, 10s., and by adding 4d. sterling, or 4s. Scots, the total is arrived at of 9, 14s. Scots, or 16s. 2d. sterling of wages for the half-year from Martinmas to Whitsunday. If we estimate the value of money at the present day at a little more than three times what it was in 1656, we shall find that the average wages of a female servant in a burgh town in the seventeenth century were 2,10s. for the half, or 5 for the whole year. Forty years ago this would have been regarded as about the market rate, though in more recent times, owing to the increased demand for labour, a great enhancement in wages has taken place.

Two mischievous lads are called to account for a trick played on a bailie’s son:—

“16 Decembtr 1656.

“The said day thair being ane complent given in be the said William Pearsone, baillie, against George Drysdaill, wevar, his sone, and James Hendrie, prenteis to Bobert Bill, tailzeor, for causing of the said baillie his sone fall aff his horse ryding to the water the last Sabothe-day except one, be stopping of fiockes under the horse taill, and than throw causing him fling and cast the barne aff his bak; qlk being considerit upone be the said bailleis and counsell, they did determine to threatten the said Bobert Bill his prenteis, being present, and if any suche fault war done and committit in tyme comeing be him or be any otheris in any tyme coming, the said bailleis and counsell ordainis them to pay ane unlaw of fyve punds, and the parent or master to be comptabill therefor.”

On 2d January 1657, the cadgers are summoned for not supplying the town with fish, and are ordered, every two of them, to bring weekly in turn two loads to the market of Culross. In the autumn of the same year there are many discussions in the town council regarding the contemplated establishment of a guildry in the burgh. It may not be inexpedient to inform my readers that the guildry, as existing in Scottish burghs, is an association of the merchants or trading portion of the community, as distinguished from the craftsmen or followers of manual avocations, who ranged themselves respectively under the different corporations of smiths, weavers, tailors, and others. It takes cognisance of all matters relating to trade and commerce, to the maintenance of burgh privileges as regards exports and imports, to weights and measures, and also to the erection and stability of houses and buildings. The last-named department is now perhaps, more than any other, regarded as the special prerogative of the Dean of Guild and his court. The institution of a guildry was regarded in Culross, and probably also in other burghs, with great jealousy by the members of the corporations, who in the present instance were actively supported by the town council. A very bitter contest ensued, but in the end the merchants were triumphant. The guildries became frequently rich and powerful bodies, and the privileges of the guild-brethren, being transmissible to their descendants, are often a valuable inheritance. The final establishment of the Culross guildry dates from the year 1659, and its records are preserved in a special volume. A full account of the struggle between the merchants and the craftsmen which preceded the final establishment of the guildry, is contained in the town council minutes; but being both very prolix and devoid of general interest, I have not deemed it necessary to quote any extracts.

On 19th and 26th October 1657, a somewhat high-handed procedure is recorded of Cromwell’s government in sending through the Scottish Council of State an order to the burgh of Culross to dismiss certain members of the town council, on the ground of their having been concerned in a Royalist rising in the Highlands, and otherwise setting at naught the authority of the Commonwealth. The Culross magistracy kiss the rod with great meekness, dismiss the offending members, and elect others in their places.

In consequence of the riding of the marches, some encroachments on the common or burgh moor are reported and checked. The maintenance of this annual procession was a very effectual prevention of such appropriations.

“(Monday) 31 May 1658.

“The quhilk day the merches of this burghe being ridden be David Mitchell, ane of the present bailleis of this burghe, and ane competent number of burgesses within the samyne, and the samyne being syghted be Wm. Broun, elder of Gagie, Jon. Broun of Barhill, and certain other persones having good skill of the merches belonging to this burghe and libertie therof, thair was found that those persons that possest the lands of Kirktoun had taken in ane certane quantitie of the commoun mure of Culrois, as also the Nora walls had lykwayes done the lyk: Wherfor the said baillie causit infix merche stones upon those partis the saids persons had taken in, to be appropriat to the tounes use.”

“7 June 1658.

"James Scotland and Jeane Erskine ordainit to remayne in ward till cautione be found he them for bigging up of the east port in cdse guid condition as it was.

“The qlk day James Scotland, salter in Culrois, and Jeane Erskine, indweller there, being convenit befor the saids bailleis and counsell for answering for the wrongs that they had done for taking of certane tymber from the east poort: and the said James being interrogatt what timber he had taken from the said port, he frielie confest fyve peices of daillis, qlk he had in his custodie; as also the said Jeane Erskine confest the having of ane piece trie. And they being removeit furthe of counsell, the saids bailleis and counsell, having considered upon the said busines, they have found thame and ayther of thame culpabill of ane wrong; thairfor they have ordanit that the said persons remayne in ward till they find cautione to big up the port in alse good caise as it was of befor.”

In this depredation on the east port, other persons besides Erskine and Scotland were concerned, and they were all condemned in “ unlaws ” or fines of various amounts. In addition to the “ daillis ” or timber-work, special mention is made of “ two bands of irone upon the leaff of the eist port,” which one of the witnesses testifies to having seen James Scotland carry away. No further mention of the fabric appears in the burgh records, and the probability is, that having been totally or nearly demolished by the depredators above mentioned, it was never again rebuilt, and the fines levied from them were applied to the “ common good ” of the town. It is evident from the minutes in question that Culross in former days owned at its eastern extremity a veritable gate or port, which it is not unlikely was situated near the present “ Endowment,” at the commencement of the low or shore road leading from the west end of the village of Low Valleyfield to Newmill Bridge. But all traces of the structure have now completely disappeared, and no tradition of any kind regarding it has come down to the present time. The west port of Culross is occasionally spoken of in the burgh minutes, and it was also probably guarded by a gate or barrier. And I consider it extremely likely that the northern approach to the town was secured by a port at the so-called Chapel barn, at the point where the road meets the old highway leading to the West Kirk and Kincardine.

The letters-out of horses on hire—or as they used to be more compendiously styled in Scotland, “ hirers ”—are called to account for exorbitant charging. Some interesting information on this subject is here furnished :—

“15 May 1659.

“The quhilk day the saids bailleis and counsell taking to thair serious consideratione the great wrong that hes bene done and committit be suche persones that hes had their horses to hyre to persones that had jumeyes to mak, in exacting and craving of thame hier and greater pryces nor is taken in other parts within this natione where the lyk is used: In consideratione wherof, and for preventing of such practices in tyme comeing, the saids bailleis and counsell, efter mature deliberatione, have statut and ordanit that no persone nor persones within this burghe, nor libertie thereof, presume nor tak upone hand to crave nor exact more from any persone or persones who sail tak their horse in hyring nor 2s. Scottis1 of the myle fordwards, and 12d. Scottis bakwards. And who sail do in the contrair herof, the samyne being complened upon, it is hereby ordanit that they sail be lyabill in such ane censure and fyne as the magistrates and counsell for the tyme sail think fit.”


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