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Culross and Tulliallan
Chapter XVII. The Burgh Records from 1698 to 1715


THE burgh records of Culross do not, from the end of the seventeenth century downwards, present much interesting matter to the general reader—though there is no lack of this for a native of the parish, or one well acquainted with the localities. The feuing out of the town moor, the litigations in connection with it with the Black Colonel and others, and the disputes with the Laird of Blairhall in regard to the New Mills, form the subject of a large portion of the entries, and are a curious enough study for a resident in the place, but would certainly be “ caviare to the general." Following out the rule I have hitherto adopted, I shall restrict myself for the most part to such quotations as are of general interest and tend to explain or throw a light on ancient Scottish manners and customs.

In the times under consideration, the Established Church was regarded as an integral and essential part of the constitution, as much to be reverenced and cared for by the civil power as the throne itself or the Parliament. The idea of a State Church being an injustice, or that it was not the necessary duty of a magistracy to give it countenance and support both on Sundays and week-days, would have been something absolutely incomprehensible to our forefathers. Here do we find the magistrates of Culross taking care that the physical wants of their spiritual coadjutors shall be properly supplied:—

“26 August 1698.

“The same day the magistratts and toune councill being convened, and being declared and represented to the toune councill thatt Mr George Mair is, upon Wednesday next, to be placed in the church of Culross, minister of the Gospel conjunct with Brae, [The territorial designation of the Rev. Mr Fraser of Brea, appointed, at the Revolution, minister of the first charge of Culross.] and for that effect the presbitrie is to be here present; and the magistrats and toune councill, taking to ther consideration, and found it necessare that ane dinner be provyditt against thatt day, therfor be pluralitie of voices hes ordered the dinner be mead readie in John Measone’s hous.”

Of this date—29th May 1699—we find an order regarding “ quartering,”—an institution still maintained, and doubtless very vexatious, but free from the terrorism that had been its general concomitant in the days of Charles and James. In subsequent times the quartering of soldiers was regarded by certain towns —at least by certain traders within them—as rather conducive than otherwise to their interests. It is recorded of a provost of Linlithgow in bygone days, who exercised the profession of a brewer, that as a reward for his exertions in forwarding the cause of the political party in power, he received a guarantee that the town would never want a company of soldiers to drink his liquor and fill his pockets. It must be said that the presence of such guests was frequently most unfavourable to the morals of the places in which they were stationed.

In the order in May 1701 for riding the burgh marches the magistrates direct, in addition, “ proclamation to be mead for a horse-race that day for a saidle at 10s. sterling, and everie horse that is to ryd to be noe more of valew but 50 Scotts.”1 This must have been the price of the more ordinary sort of horses two hundred years ago.

A censor of public morals is appointed:—

“23 December 1701.

“The quhilk day, anent the choyes of a baillie for censuring of immoralities, according to the Shirreff of Perth appointment by his letter sent to the minister, he being im-powered by authoritie for that effect, they have chosen Baillie Gray; and he has chosen for his councill the other two baillies, the Den of Gild, the theasorer, William Adam, younger, and William DrysdealL”

Notwithstanding the “boycotting” agreed to be exercised by the burgesses of Culross against the proprietor and inhabitants of Valleyfield, in retaliation of the rival burgh of barony set up by the latter, the townsfolk seem not only to have procured their coals from that quarter, but likewise to have availed themselves of clandestine and surreptitious modes of obtaining a supply of the commodity. Of this we have already had evidence. Several minutes of council in 1702 record

"A bargone which was cowmoned betwixt Colonel John Erskine of Camden, William Robertson of Gladnay, taxmen of the coall works of Valyfield, and the magistrates of this burgh, anent the satelling and establishing of the pryce of the kartt and missure of great coall which comes from the coall hill of Valyfield to the burgh, and for furnishing of the same, and that at the pryce of seven shillings Scots1 the kart, as the pryce of former payments mead betwixt this toune and the awners of these works—upon this condition, that the burgesses and other inhabitants of this burgh be restricted, bound, and obleidged that they recept nor buy any stolline coalls from the coall bearers or coal hewares in Valyfield, in recepting of burdens at any tyme aither night or day.”

The proviso is added—

“And in the mayne tyme, if the seven shilling cannot be adheared to nor condeshended upon, with power to the magistrates to add or condeshend upon a babie8 or eight penyes8 more the load.”

Mr Robertson stands out for “ seven shilling and a baby the kairt; ” and notwithstanding the bailies used “all ther indevoures” to obtain the old rate of 7s., we are informed that they “yett could not prevail with him. The town council now adheares to the od baby, since they can do no better.” On these terms the bargain, as originally proposed, is concluded. Seven shillings and eightpence Scots, or 7d. sterling, seems certainly a moderate price for a cart of coals, taking even the then and present values of money into consideration. It could not be procured now at the pit-head under 4s. for the most n ferior description of coal.

Races seem to be becoming an annual institution at Culross. Here is the magisterial order:—

“29 June 1702.

“The same day the magistrates and toun councill, being convened, hes now appointed ane horse-race to be riddine in the common mure of the burgh upon Wednesday, the third Wednesday of July next, in the fomoon; and a futt-race in the eftemooon within the toun, from CastelhiU march to James Archibald’s door, and from thence bak to the troune: the horse-race for a saidle, and the futt-race for a paire shoes and pair stockings.”

As regards the limits within which the foot-race is to be run, “Castelhill march” is the western boundary of the burgh, at the point where the Dean Bum joins the sea; the “ troune,” or tron, is on the Sand Haven, in front of the town - house; but where “ John Archibald’s door ” was, I have no means of determining. Down to a comparatively recent period, there used to be a horse-race along the road in front of St Mungo’s, from the foot of the Newgate to the western extremity of Low Valleyfield.

In the following entry we see the first commencement of the movement for the union of the kingdoms, which was finally consummated in 1707. Queen Anne had now ascended the throne, William III. having died in the preceding month of March:—

“The quhilk day the magistrates and toun councill being convened in order to the tounes affairs, and being produced and red in councill ane missive letter direct from the Provost of Edinburgh to this place, requyring us to send one commissioner sufficiently instructed, in order to the union betwixt the two kingdoms, in manner as is contained in the said letter, as the samyne, of the deatt at Edinburgh the 29 of September 1702 years, bears: In obedience therto the magistrate and toun councill hes nominatt and appoynted, and hereby nominatts, John Adam, present baillie, to repair to Edinburgh against Fryday next, the 16 day of this instant, and to have his commission and his expenses to be allowed to him.”

In October 1704 the yearly election of magistrates and council takes place. At the end of the list of merchant councillors appears, “ Andrew Mid-dletoun removed, and Colonel Jo. Erskine in his place.” This is the first appearance on the municipal stage of Colonel John Erskine of Camock, the celebrated Black Colonel, who figures so prominently in the civil and ecclesiastical history of Culross of this period. Though on the whole a good worthy man, his litigious and quarrelsome disposition kept him in hot water almost all his life with the burgh authorities. I shall have occasion to discuss his character more particularly in dealing with the kirk-session records. In 1700 he had purchased at a judicial sale the estates of the Earl of Kincardine, and had thus become the largest landed proprietor in the neighbourhood. The lands attached to Culross Abbey, however, with the mansion itself, he was obliged to resign, in consequence of a decreet-arbitral, to Lady Mary Bruce or Cochrane, daughter of Alexander, second Earl of Kincardine, and wife • of William Cochrane, Esq. of Ochiltree. Lady Mary seems to have been infeft in these on a prior title which held good against Lord Kincardine’s creditors. Colonel Erskine was obliged to content himself with the mansion in the Sand Haven of Culross, which formerly had not only been the property but the actual residence of the Kincardine family previous to their removal, after the Restoration, to Culross Abbey. Lady Mary Cochrane, after her brother Alexander’s death in 1705 without issue, continued, with her husband and family, to occupy the Abbey, and transmitted it to her descendants the Earls of Dundonald. Colonel Erskine inhabited, at least occasionally, throughout his life the mansion in the Sand Haven which had formerly belonged to the Earls of Kincardine. It would be more correct to say one of the mansions, as there are two in the same place, adjoining each other, though quite distinct. In the other lived, as is commonly believed, his kinsman, Colonel John Erskine, known as “ Fair Colonel John Erskine,” or the “White Colonel.” It has been generally asserted, more especially by Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood in his Life of Dr Erskine of the Greyfriara Church, grandson of the Black Colonel, that the White Colonel was the latter’s nephew; but this is certainly a mistake. The son of Colonel William Erskine of Torrie, the Black Colonel’s brother, was unquestionably a man of fair complexion, and a colonel in the army; but his Christian name was William, and he was only bom in 1691.

Now there is repeated mention in the burgh records, at a period long anterior to the attainment of such a rank by Colonel William Erskine the second of Torrie, of a “ Fair Colonel John Erskine,” a burgess and inhabitant of Culross, and who is, moreover, spoken of as the son of Sir John, and brother of Sir Charles Erskine of Alva. How he came to settle in Culross we know not, but there he is in the early years of the last century; and a daughter of his, as after mentioned, married Dr Alexander Webster, minister of Culross. In the year 1722 we find the two men, under the very designations of the Black and the White Colonels, assisting as elders at the celebration of the Culross Communion. The age of Colonel William Erskine would have almost precluded him at this time from such an office; and moreover, as Laird of Torrie, his church was in the adjoining parish of Torrybum. The epithets had evidently been adopted to distinguish the two Colonel John Erskines, and were applied and received as proper and respectful titles. Tradition has persistently asserted that the two Colonels lived beside each other in the two adjoining houses within the same court in the Sand Haven, which thenceforward received the appellation of “the Colonels’ Close.”

The Black Colonel and his brother, the first Colonel William Erskine of Torrie, were the great-grandsons of John, seventh Earl of Mar, son of the Regent; and Sir John Erskine of Alva stood to the Earl and his father in the same degree of propinquity. His son, therefore, the Fair Colonel John Erskine, or the White Colonel, bore to the Black Colonel, John Erskine of Camock, the relationship of second cousin once removed, and to the second Colonel William Erskine of Torrie that of third cousin.

Under the date of 22d October 1705, an Act of council orders the town fleshers to keep to their own market at the cross, and not to bring their meat to the “land market,” or market for the country fleshers, at the tolbooth. Here we see clearly the origin of the term “lawn,” or “land market,” as denoting the market for the “ land ” or country people, as distinguished from the burgesses or townsfolk.

In course of the year 1708 another deadlock occurs, in consequence of the magistrates neglecting or refusing to comply with an Act of the British Parliament requiring all persons holding civic office to take the oath of abjuration. Some feeling of jealousy of being governed by a Parliament sitting in London, with the unpopularity of the recent Union, producing a common bond of sentiment on this subject between Presbyterians and Jacobites, had doubtless brought about this result. Its effect was to disqualify all the magistrates, and thereby leave the town without government and the power of collecting its revenues. The Scottish Parliament was not now at hand to make application to; but a petition was presented to the Convention of Royal Burghs sitting at Edinburgh; and in consequence of a deliverance obtained from it, a deputation, consisting of commissioners from the burghs of Stirling, Linlithgow, Dunfermline, Inverkeithing, and Queensferry, visited Culross in the month of August, and took the votes of the burgesses in the appointment of three temporary managers “ to uplift the common good and cess of the said burgh.” On Michaelmas following, the community was convened, and a formal election of magistrates made in the ordinary way.

Under the following date some interesting glimpses of burgh life in ancient times are presented :—

“7 February 1709.

“The whilk day, upon a petition given in be John Thomson, officer, representing that there is ten marks payed yearlie be the kirk for ringing the second bell to the kirk, and altho’ that James Peack [Peacock], also officer, is at no panes theranent, or in ringing of the tolbuth bell at 5 o’clock in the morning and 8 o’clock at night, and hes the heall dues of the Yule wages payed for the drum without division, and the half of other dues arrysing by the dead bell or other wayes: Therfor craving that they may appoint the ten marks to be paid to him without division; which desyre they find reasonable, and therfor have granted the same, and to commence from Martimes last.

"The whilk day the baillies and toun councill, considering that her Majestie’s birthday was upon the sixt instant, which falling out to be the Lord's Day, there could be no solemnity don therupon: Therfor they appoynt a proclamation to be sent throw the toun by the drum, appointing the heall inhabitants to put out and mak luminations in the most patent windows of their houses looking to the hei streets, against six o’clok this night, under the pane of fyve pounds Soots, to be payed be ilk person failling therin; and ordaynes the church bells and tolbuth bell to ring at 5 o’clock at night, and to continue till 8; and appoints the heall members of town councill to attend the magistrate in the Sands Haven about Bix o’clok at night, that they may wack through the toun and sie no abuses to be don, under the pane of 40/.”

The foregoing order is the result of an afterthought. No idea had apparently been previously entertained of celebrating the Queen’s birthday; and the idea having suddenly occurred that such an omission might be construed into want of respect towards “the powers that be,” the principle of “better late than never” was acted on, and an order issued for a public demonstration. It is the first order in the burgh minute-books for a general house-Ulumination. The practice became very common throughout the country in after-times, and was really far more effective than the custom at the present day of illuminating the exterior of special buildings by a dazzling display of blazing devices, whilst the remainder of the street-front presents a dark wall of utter gloom. Those who neglected to obey the magisterial order were threatened, as we see, with the imposition of a fine; but the dread of the mischief of the rabble, who at such times were wont to inflict summary punishment by demolishing the offending windows, would act quite as effectually as a security for obedience.

The order of the day concludes thus: “As also they appoynt four pounds Scotts to be payed to Alexr. Bimay, wright, for erecting the stang for the scollers in August last in the Sand Haven.”

This seems to have been some erection in connection with the ceremonies at the reception of the burgh commissioners when they visited Culross for the election of temporary managers during the magisterial vacancy. The word “ stang ” means a pole, and this may either have been a Maypole for the amusement of the youngsters, or some triumphal banner around which they were grouped. To “ ride the stang” was a species of Lynch law not unfre-quently resorted to in the days of our forefathers, and even still not wholly in desuetude when the populace wish to vent their indignation against a brutal husband, or similar object of detestation. He was placed astride on a pole, borne shoulder-high amid jeers and execrations, and not unfre-quently deposited at last in a pool of water.

We are next brought in contact with Louis XIV., —his persecutions of his Protestant subjects, and aggressions on the neighbouring States of Germany. Perhaps the inhabitants of Alsace and Lorraine are here referred to:—

“12 September 1700.

“The same day ther being a representation mead from the quarter session of the justices of peace of Fearthshire in August last, of a letter direct to them from the councill chamber at St James’, deated the 29 day of June last, anent receaving and subsisting of some German Protestants that had fled to this kingdom for refuge from the great exactions of the French on the frontiers, and being otherwayes distressed upon the accompt of ther religion: and Baillie Wil-soune being present at that quarter session, he represented ther that he doubted not but that the toun of Culross would receive and entertayne in a direct number in proportion to the toun of Pearth, and conforme to the share in the burrow* tax roll; which the heall councill consent to.”

And here is another ordinance against “ late wakes,” of same date:—

“The quhilk day the magistrates and toun councill doth not onlie ratifie and approve the former Acts of councill discharging all persones whatsomever to goe to and frequent laitt waks, under the panes and penalties therin contayned, excepting sutch persons as is particularlie inveited by the friends of the defunct, and others concerned; butt alsoe, efter the loudable custome of other burghs, particularlie the niboring burgh of Dunfermling, the magistrates and town councill of this burgh doe striklie prohibit and discharge all persones whatsomever who are burgesses and inhabitants of this burgh, to enter into the hous or housses where the corps of any deceissed person is laying, or unto thois convened ther in any truble, of furnishing of them bread, drink, or tabaco, except they be friends.and relations to the defunct, and particularlie inveitted therto, each person contravening to be unlawed in the soume of twentie shilling Scots unforgiven ; and ordaynes thir presents to be intimatt by oppen proclamation and tuck of drum.”

The following is directed against those guilty of blabbing or revealing council secrets. Evidently it was wished to make the corporation a close 'one. What would these old-world folks have said of the modem practice of admitting reporters to the council meetings?

“The qlk day it being represented that many times what is agitat and said in councill is frequently divulged by the councellours, which being a manifest breach of the oath of secrecie, and oft times tends to the prejudice of some other persones: Therefore it is statute and ordained, and hereby acts, statutes, and ordains, that for the first fault they shall be fyned as the magistrates and councill does think fitt, and for the second fault to be turned off and deposed from the councill for that year.”

“27 October 1709.

“The qlk day Mr Alexr. Bruce and Mr Thomas Bruce, sones to the Earle of Kincardine, Patrik Angus, factor to Sir Peter Halket of Pitferrane, and James Hind, servitor to the said Earle of Kincardine, all admitted burgesses—the first three burgesses and gild brethren, and James Hind burges and freeman.”

Sir Alexander Bruce of Broomhall, on the death of Alexander, Earl of Kincardine, in 1705, had succeeded, as already mentioned, in establishing his right to the title as nearest male heir. He had three sons, Robert, Alexander, and Thomas, who all succeeded him in order as Earls of Kincardine.

The town officers are to have new coats :—

“24 April 1710.

“The same day the magistrates and toune councill ordain the theasorer to provide and buy a suit of cloathes to each of the touns officers, of the said touns livery, as easy as possible, and to cause have them ready against Whitsunday next, in respect the coats they have at present are very bare, being three years old or thereby.”

“22 June 1710.

“As also the councill recommended to the theasorer to provide a piece of strong plaiding cloath, and cause dy the same in the touns livery, to be a coat to the toune piper, like the former.”

“23 Avgst 1710.

“The said day Laurence Johnstoune, gardner in Castle-liill, compeared, and represented that he was maryed to ane bulges and gild brother’s daughter, and craved to be admitt burges, and have such benefite as is due therby; which being considered by the councill, and that each bailly hath power to admitt one burges each year gratis, Baillie Moutray declared that he was content the said Laurence should be received as his burges. And therefore the magistrates and councill admitted and received him burges gratis of the said burgh, who gave him burges oath as use is, and thereupon took instruments.”

The above entry is locally interesting, as the first notice of a family which afterwards rose to great wealth and distinction, and is now one of the principal county families in this district. Laurence Johnston, here designated as a gardener at Castle-hill, or what is now known as Dunimarle, after being admitted as a burgess of Culross, removed thither, where he entered on the business of a malt-man. He was so successful, that about the year 1730 we find him the proprietor of the estate of Middle Grange, which still remains in his family. His son James, who is designated as a merchant in Culross, must have early shown some ability, as we find an objection taken to his being admitted as a town councillor, on the ground of his being under age. He became subsequently the owner of Sands, in the parish of Tulliallan—from which his descendants now take their territorial designation—had a large family, and died at an advanced age. Hia elder sons died prematurely, and one of the younger sons, Laurence, who entered the army, succeeded him in his estates, and married Miss Wellwood of Garvock, whose paternal grandmother was a sister of Sir Robert Preston of Valleyfield. The present proprietor of Sands, Laurence Johnston, Esq., is the grandson of Captain Laurence Johnston just mentioned, and great-great-grandson of the Laurence Johnston referred to in the council entry above quoted. Through his ancestress, Mrs Wellwood of Garvock, who was the granddaughter of William Cochrane of Ochiltree and Lady Mary Bruce, he is lineally descended from Alexander, second Earl of Kincardine, who, again, was the grandson of the celebrated Sir George Bruce of Camock. It may be noted that the three principal heritors in the parish of Culross—John J. Dalgleish, Esq. of West Grange, Laurence Johnston, Esq. of Sands, and Robert Clark Preston, Esq. of Valleyfield—are all descended from a common ancestress, Mrs Wellwood of Garvock, and through her from Lady Mary Cochrane and her father, Earl Alexander. A fourth heritor, the Hon. Robert Preston Brace, brother of the Earl of Elgin and proprietor of the Culross Abbey and Blairhall estates, is lineally descended from Sir Alexander Bruce of Broomhall, grandson of the great Sir George Bruce, in whose descendants, therefore, the huge estates which he had amassed by his commercial abilities and industry are for the most part still vested, though after several revolutions. In further reference to the Sands estate, it may not be uninteresting to remark that the adjoining property of Tulliallan, at present belonging to Lady W. G. Osborne Elphinston, will ultimately vest in the noble house of Lansdowne, whose founder, the celebrated Sir William Petty, took, like the Johnston family, his rise from modest beginnings, his father having been a small tradesman in the town of Romsey in Hampshire.

Here is an order fixing a councillor’s daily allowance for maintenance when absent on business connected with the burgh. Twentypence sterling per day seems a moderate enough allowance even for those times, but the finances of Culross were not flourishing:—

“8 Octr. 1711.

“The same day the councill, considering the circumstances and condition of the burgh, hereby enact and appoynt that whoever hereafter shall be imployed to goe to Edinburgh or elsewhere about the town business and affairs, they shall only have for their expenses twenty shillings Scots per diem, allowed to them, with their horse-hyre, and their extraordinar charges also to be allowed attour the said twenty shilling, conforme to former Acts of councill.”

In the two following entries the first gives some idea of the price of butcher-meat in 1710, and the second shows a prosecution for an alleged act of purchase within the burgh so as to diminish the supply of the market:—

“Dect. Robert Dalgleiah, elder, flesher, against Mr Harry Bruoe, of Connie, for twelve pound, as the price of a carcase of beef, received about two years ago; twenty shillings, the pryce of a quarter of ane leg of beef, upwards of two years; and ten shilling, the pryce of a leg mutton, about two months ago; —extending in heall to thirteen pound ten shilling Scottis.”

From the above we learn that the price of the whole carcass of an ox, after two years’ credit given, amounted then only to 12 Scots, or 1 sterling; whilst that of a quarter-leg of beef was jl Scots or twentypence sterling, and a leg of mutton, at cash price, was only 10s. Scots, or lOd. sterling. The contrast between the last charge alone and what obtains at the present day is sufficiently startling.

“3 Octr. 1710.

“The fiscall against Alexr. Henry, mealman, for alleadged buying a bag of meal at the Petty Common or St Mungo’s, comeing to the town above ane fortnight agoe. The said Alexander positively denied any such buying of meall by the way; neither had he any meal in his house for sale, save the meal which he bought from the gimells [Granaries.] of Craig-flower. The baillie delays to proceed farder in the matter until farder inquirie be made in the matter and represented.”

On 14th June 1711 a curious prosecution is instituted before the bailies, of a number of Culross housewives (twenty-nine in all) as “bleachers of cloath with lyme.” It was probably taken in the public interest, from the well-grounded belief that the use of such a substance damaged the fabric and was a fraud on purchasers. Bleaching-powders and chlorides were unknown in those days, but lime served to some extent the same purpose. The procedure seems to have been a little inquisitorial, as the accused parties were personally and directly interrogated. Most, however, refused to appear or answer, and were each fined 5 Scots, on the alternate grounds of contumacy or being held confessed. The others were absolved, and it is very questionable whether any penalty was ever enforced.

The marches are ridden with great Sclat this year:—

“14 May 1713.

“Which day the councill being mett annent the toun’s aflairs, there was an flag for an standart produced, which was given by way of complement, together with an large peace of plate money as the head of the standart, by Lady Mary Cochrane, which flag contains the armes of the Earle of Kincardine deceased. This complement, by unanimous voice of councill, ordained to be recorded, together with an stand of colours also gifted by Lady Mary, and two plumash feather given by Sir George Preston.

"The said day the magistrates and councill appoints the said standart and also the toun’s colours both to be caryed at ryding the martches Whitsunmunday next—the standart to be carryed by the treasurer, and the colours by William Paton, wright, both carryed by plurality of votes. It is hereby condeshended in councill that the trades cary the standart Whitsunmunday Jayviicm*1 and fourteen years, and soe the merchants and trades year about in all time coming.”

A great man has announced his intention of honouring Culross with a visit. The Marquis of Atholl, who figures prominently as a Scottish statesman in the period subsequent to the Revolution, had been raised to the dukedom in 1703. Sir Walter Scott introduces him in the 4 Bride of Lammermoor ’ as the Marquis of A-, a nobleman of Jacobite tendencies. He had a connection with Culross as Lord Lieutenant of Perthshire:—

“10 July 1713.

“Which, day the magistrates and councill, considering that his Grace the Duke of Atholl is to-morrow to come and pay his respects to the burgh, they think it fit, and doe recommend it to the magistrates and councill, to attend his Grace, and invite him to the councill-house, and there to give his Grace and attendants the compliments of the burgh; and recommend it to the saids magistrates to order the inhabitants to be ready with their best armes and abuliements, and also recommend to the magistrates to cause and order the bells to be rung.”

The town piper has turned out a black sheep, and is deprived of office :—

“4 Decr. 1713.

“The said day the magistrates and councill, considering the misbehaviour of Donald Mackenzie, their town piper, and that he is already found, by sentence of the magistrates of yesterday’s date, that he has been found guilty of breaking the Sabbath-day, and of haunting vagabounds* company: Therefore they unanimously deprive him of his office as town piper, and declare him incapable of enjoying any office within burgh in time coming; and likeways they banish him out of the burgh and territory thereof, and discharge him ever to be present in the same in tyme coming, under the pain of being imprisoned in the eimhouse1 during the magistrates and councill their pleasure, and being scourged out of the town.”

The country appears to be in a disturbed state, possibly in anticipation of Queen Anne’s death and a change in the government. The magistrates issue an order for a town guard:—

“17 Deer. 1713.

“The said day the magistrates and councill, taking to their serious consideration that the countrie is in present turned loose with vagabounds and others, and that there are houses frequently broken: Therefore they, for the security of the haill inhabitants within the burgh, statutes and ordains a guard to be keepit within the town during the council's pleasure, which guaird is to consist of twelve able men, who are to goe through the whole town peaceably several times in the night time, and if the guaird hear or see any persons within the town after ten o’clock at night making disturbance, the guaird is empowered to bring such persons to the guaird, and to detain them till the next day, that the magistrates take accompt of their misdemanners: and the magistrates and councill ordain each family in the toun and liberties therof to furnish an able man by their turns to the said guaird; and ordaine the head of each family who refuses or delays to bear their burdens, to be poynded by the captain of the guaird and such of his company as he pleases to take along with him, and that discreetly without any abuse; and they allow the guaird the benefit of the councill-house; and the fine upon the refusers or delayers to be six shilling Scots for each failly; and remits the makeing of the cast and nameing the captain to Baillie Coustoun; and ordains this Act to be intimate by touck of drum.”

On 15th February 1715, Bailie Coustoun, who had formerly been unsuccessfully opposed by Charles Cochrane, is again nominated by the council com-’ missioner for Culross at the general meeting of the district burghs, which was to take place in the town next day, “ for choiceing a burges to represent the said district in the ensuing Parliament of Great Britain, to be holden at Westminster the seventeen day of March next.” Queen Anne was now dead, and the Elector of Hanover had been, amid wonderful tranquillity, proclaimed king as George I. The Jacobite cause received a stunning blow by the downfall of the Tories in the end of Queen Anne’s reign; but it was soon again to raise its head.

The excitement of the parliamentary election had led to a little extra expenditure on the part of the council, who nevertheless display a commendable economy in the matter of their officers’ coats:—

“31 March 1715.

“The council ordaine the persons concerned in furnishing the provision for the dinner at the election of the member of Parliament to give in their accompts against the next council day.

"The said day there being a petition given in by the officers craveing new coats, the council resolve to give them new coats; and Bobert Sands having represented to the council that he has a piece of whyte cloath fit for that purpose, he is content to give the same for that end, and to allow what he ows to the town in the first end, and is content to refer the price to the council, who are satisfied therewith.”

A singular entry appears under

“5 Judy 1715.

"The clerk represents to the council that he gave his receit to his Majesties collector for a book sent to the burgh by the Speaker in the House of Commons, which book is intituled a report from the Committee of Secrecy, with a letter from the said Speaker to the eldest magistrate; which book and letter the clerk hath accordingly delivered to the council.”

This is a mysterious affair altogether. Have we here a trace of Sir Robert Walpole’s hand in Scottish politics ? It is said that a favourite maxim of this astute minister of George I. was, that every man had his price. And do we here see his influence in initiating a system of bribery and corruption, extending even to the remote burgh of Culross?


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