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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of James VI. 1603 - 1625 Part H


On the 23d April 1623, an act of Privy Council was passed in favour of Samuel Johnston, laird of Elphinstone, in consideration of his having super-expended 20,000 merks on his coal-heughs, ‘to his great hurt and apparent wrack.’ It was stated that he had entertained forty families of men, wives, and children at the work, whose weekly charges exceeded two hundred merks. His coal would be lost, and these work-people thrown on the world, if some remedy were not provided, as he could no longer strive with the adverse circumstances in which he was placed. On the other hand, if the work could be held forward, and got into proper order, it might be ‘a gangand coal’ for a hundred years to come.

The Council, in consideration of the losses sustained by the laird, and to save so many poor people from being thrown out of employment, granted him what he asked as a remedy—namely, a licence to export coal for seven years.

It follows from the laird’s statement that the average weekly gains of a collier’s family reached five merks, or about 5s. 6d. sterling.

May 12
A small private war between the Lairds of Drumlanrig and Cashogle came to a bearing this day at the Moss of Knockonie. This moss belonged to David Douglas, brother to Drumlanrig; but Cashogle had always been allowed to raise peats from it for his winter fuel. The two lairds having fallen into a coldness, Cashogle would not ask this any longer as a favour, but determined to take it as a right. Twice his servants were interrupted in their operations; so he himself came one day to the moss, with his son Robert and thirty-six men or thereby, armed with swords, hagbuts, lances, corn-forks, and staves. Hereupon, the Laird of Mousewald, a brother of the proprietor of the moss (who was absent), sent a friend to remonstrate, and to urge upon Cashogle the propriety of his asking the peats ‘out of love,’ instead of taking them in contempt. The Cashogle party returned only contemptuous answers, ‘declaring they sould cast their peats there, wha wald, wha wald not.’ Some further remonstrances being ineffectual, Drumlanrig himself; accompanied with friends and servants, came upon the scene, shewing that he had the royal authority to command Cashogle to desist. But even this reference failed to induce submission. At length, the Laird of Mousewald, losing temper, exclaimed: ‘Ye are ower pert to disobey the king’s majesty’s charge—quickly pack you and begone.’

‘Immediately, ane of Cashogle’s servants, with ane great kent [staff], strak Captain Johnston behind his back, twa great straiks upon the head, whilk made him fall dead to the grand with great loss of blood. Then Robert Douglas [son of Cashogle] presentit ane bended hagbut within three ells to the Laird of Drumlanrig’s breast, whilk at the pleasure of God misgave. Immediately thereafter, Robert of new morsit the hagbut, and presented her again to him, whilk shot and missed him at the pleasure of God. Robert Dalyell, natural son to the Laird of Dalyell, was struck through the body with ane lance, who cried that he was slain; and some twa or three men was strucken through their clothes with lances, sae that the haille company thought that they had been killed, and then thought it was time for them to begin to defend themselves; whereupon Robert Douglas and three or four of his folk being hurt, was put to flight, and in flying, the said Robert fell, where the Laird of Drumlanrig chancit to be nearest him; wha, notwithstanding the former offer Robert made to him with the hagbut, not only spared to strike him with his awn hands, but likewise discouraged all the rest under pain of their lives to steir him.’ One of the Cashogle party was slain.

Such an occurrence as this in the south of Scotland, and amongst men of rank and property, shews strikingly that the wild blood of the country was yet by no means quieted. There was a mutual prosecution between the parties; but they contrived to make up the quarrel between themselves out of court, and, private satisfaction being, as usual, deemed enough, the law interfered no further.

Amongst other symptoms of advancing civilisation proper to this period, was an effort towards the correction of unauthorised medical practice. ‘Persons without knowledge of the science of medicine’ were everywhere practising, ‘to the great and evident hazard of the lives and healths of many of our subjects;’ so declared the king. Drugs were also sold by ignorant persons. Another document refers to the judicatories of the kingdom for an account of ‘the frequent murders committed by quacks, women, gardeners, and others.’ The king, desiring to put a check on these evils, ordered the parliament to frame an act for the erection of a College of Physicians in Edinburgh, to be composed of seven doctors and professors of medicine, who should be incorporated, and without whose warrant no one should practise medicine in or near the city; three of their number to have the duty of superintending the sale of drugs. From various causes, this good design did not take practical effect till a later age.—An. Scot.

May
‘About this time there was a great earthquake in the town of Montrose and thereabouts, to the great terror of the inhabitants, so that many fled out of the town. Some was slain with the thunder there.’—Cal.

Some foreign vessels trading for coal and salt having been shipwrecked, during the severe storms of the past winter, on the. ‘blind craigs’ (that is, concealed rocks) in the Firth of Forth, it was proposed, by the enterprising coal and salt proprietor, Sir George Bruce, that he should be allowed to erect beacons at those dangerous spots, and reimburse himself by a small tax on the foreign vessels frequenting the Firth during the ensuing year. Hearing of this proposal, the other coal-proprietors in Fife and the Lothians felt that they were much concerned, seeing that ‘no stranger-ships come that way but either for coal or salt,’ and they considered that ‘the payment of this duty wald carry with it a very great reproach and scandal to the country, as if such a small piece of work in the most eminent river in the kingdom could not be gotten done without the contribution and help of strangers.’ For these reasons, they themselves undertook to set up the required beacons.—M. S. P.

This movement may be regarded as another mark of the enlightened attention now beginning to be paid to things in which the material interests of the people were concerned. How far the proposal of Sir George Bruce was carried out we do not learn; but the probability is that he did not allow his plan to fall asleep. It bears out our view of the spirit beginning to manifest itself in Scotland, that the royal burghs, a few years later (September 1631), contemplated having lights erected on the Isle of May in the mouth of the Firth of Forth, and on ‘the Skairheids’ (P. C. R.), and soon after one was actually put upon the May, being the first known to have been formed in connection with the Scottish coasts, and for generations a solitary example on those of the island generally. A Fife laird, Alexander Cunningham of Barns—a relative, it would appear, of the wife of the poet Drummond—had the merit of establishing this useful protection for shipping. Obtaining the proper authority from Charles I., he, in 1635, erected on the isle ‘a tower forty feet high, vaulted to the top, and covered with flag-stones, whereon all the year over,’ says Sir Robert Sibbald, writing in the reign of Charles II., ‘there burns in the night-time a fire of coals for a light; for which the masters of ships are obliged to pay for each ton two shillings [twopence sterling]. This sheweth light,’ he adds, ‘to all the ships coming out of the Firths of Forth and Tay, and to all places between St Abb’s Head and Redcastle near Montrose.’

Through a. natural antagonism, we may suppose, between the powers of darkness and the interest here concerned, the architect of the May light-tower was drowned on his return from the isle in a storm believed to have been raised by witches, who were in consequence burnt. The fire was duly kept burning by the successors of Cunningham till the erection of a regular light-house on modern principles by the Commissioners of Northern Lights. It required three hundred and eighty tons of Wemyss coal annually, that kind being selected on account of the clearness of its flame. In 1790, the tack or lease of this privileged light, with its tax of three-halfpence a ton on Scottish, and threepence on foreign shipping, rose from £280 to £960, and in 1800 it was let at £1500, ‘a striking proof,’ as Mr Adamson justly remarks, ‘of the increase of the trade of this country’ during the period.

Aug 4
This was a day of great concern and sorrow to the earnest Presbyterians of Scotland, as on it the parliament sitting at Edinburgh ratified the Five Articles introducing Episcopalian fashions into the church. At the moment when the commissioner, the Marquis of Hamilton, rose to apply the sceptre to the bills, thus giving them symbolically the royal assent, a flash of lightning burst into the house, followed by a second and a third, and these by loud thunder. A heavy darkness ensued. The discharge of rain was so great, that the ceremonial return to Holyroodhouse could not be effected, and all rushed home in confusion. The people, affected by these signs and wonders, called the day
Black Saturday.

The weather had been bad during the whole summer, and the harvest was likely to be late and meagre. A Presbyterian historian, after relating what happened at the ratification of the Five Articles, adds: ‘That very day made the greatest alteration of prices of victual within eight days, that ever was heard of in so short a space in Scotland, except the ill-windy Bartle-day in anno 159—.’—Row. It appears that wheat rose to £12 per boll, and the price might have been higher but for the coming in of foreign grain. The autumn was distinguished by heavy rains, carrying away the crops of extensive haughs or meadows. And of such as were preserved, scarcely any was ‘won’—that is, secured—before Hallowmass. The wetness of the season was also unfavourable to the winning of peat-fuel. ‘Never was greater fear of famine, nor scarcity of seed to sow the ground. Every person was careful to ease himself of such persons as he might spare, and to live as retiredly as possibly he might. Pitiful was the lamentation not only of vaiging beggars, but also of honest persons.’—Cal.

Aug 28
‘Because there was a new brood and generation of the Clan Gregor risen up, who are begun to go in troops and companies about the country, armed with offensive weapons, there was a proclamation published that none who carry the name of Macgregor shall wear any armour, but ane pointless knife to eat their meat with, under the pain of death.’ —Ba!.

The Chronicle of Perth notes the holding of a justice court there, May 10, 1624, by the chancellor Sir George Hay, ‘where many compeirit and were clengit by assize; only three hangit— Macgregors!’ A few months later, the same authority tells us of ‘Robert Abroch, ane Macgregor, ane great limmer, wha had been ance or twice forgiven and remitted by his majesty, for his oppression, upon hope of amendment, yet continued still in his knaveries; after there was mickle searching made for him in the Highlands, and all his friends chargit to apprehend [him], [he] came to Perth this day, being Tuesday, ane preaching-day, after sermon, and fell down on his knees, and ane tow about his neck, and offerit his sword by the point to the Chancellor of Scotland, wha refusit to accept of it, and commanded the bailies to ward him; like as they instantly warded him, and put baith his feet on the gaud, where he remainit.’—Chron. Perth.

‘This year, Sir William Alexander of Menstrie undertook a plantation in a part of America, which was then called New Scotland [Nova Scotia], where he intended to send a colony. Sir Robert Gordon, Tutor of Sutherland, joined himself in this enterprise, and did indent and contract with Sir William to send thither some men out of Sutherland, weel provided with corns, cattle, weapons, and other provision fit and sufficient for that journey, who should have a good portion of that country allotted them to inhabit. The Earl Marischal of Scotland, the Earl of Melrose, the Earl of Nithsdale, the Viscount of Dupplin, Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar, Sir Alexander Gordon of Cluny, James Gordon of Lesmoir, with divers other nobles and gentlemen, were likewise partners in this plantation. And for further advancement of this plantation, his majesty concluded to make heritable knights-baronets in Old Scotland; which honour should be bestowed upon the choicest undertakers of that enterprise, and upon such as were of best quality for vertue, birth, and means among the gentry.’—G. H. S.

Oct 12
This day, Friday, commenced a remarkable flood in the Tay, which lasted for three or four days, and caused extensive destruction. The beautiful bridge, newly completed across the river at Perth, was swept away, excepting one arch only. In the middle of the second night, the water had then so high, that the people living in low houses near the Castle Gavel Port in Perth, were obliged to remove to higher houses. The town was so environed with water, that no one could enter or leave it for several days. Children were let down from upper windows into boats, in order to be carried to places presumably safer. Household stuff and provisions were destroyed. The rain was accompanied by a violent wind from the east, which would somewhat help to maintain the waters of the river at a high elevation. The water flowed in the High Street and the Speygate ‘like mill-sluices;’ and one Charles Rollock became a distinguished public benefactor by going about in a boat through those streets, and rescuing people who were in danger of drowning—a service for which he afterwards received a double angel in recompense.

The people were thrown into a state of extreme consternation, looking for nothing but the entire destruction of their fair city. ‘Whereupon Mr John Malcolm, minister, powerfully endued with God’s spirit, caused ring the preaching-bell on Sunday at seven hours in the morning, and the haill inhabitants came to the kirk. And there he exhorted them to repent of their sins, which had provoked the said judgment of God to come upon the city; assuring them that if they were truly penitent therefor, and would avow to God to amend their lives in time coming, God would avert his judgment, and give them deliverance. Whose powerful exhortations moved the people to cry to God with tears, clamours, and cries, and to hold up their hands to God, [promising that they would] amend their lives, and every one of them to abstain from their domestic sins. The like humiliation of men and women has not been seen within Perth before. Fasting, preaching, and praying continued all that week The waters began somewhat to decrease after noon on Sunday; but after daylight passed, there arose a greater tempest of wind and rain than at any time before, which so affrighted the people that night, that they looked for nothing but [that] the waters should have arisen to greater height [than] they were before. Notwithstanding thereof, miraculously, through the mercy of God, by [past] all men’s expectation, the waters greatly in the meantime decreased, which in the morning moved the people in the kirk and all other places to give hearty thanks to God for his mercy toward them."

One of the remarks current among the more serious class of people on this occasion, was that the inundation was sent as a judgment on Perth, on account of the five Episcopalian articles passed there by the General Assembly three years before, though how this vengeance should have fallen on the innocent people living in the place of that assembly, and not upon the churchmen who passed the articles, or rather the majority of them as apart from the minority, it is not easy to reconcile to a sense of either Divine wisdom or Divine justice. It chances that Perth is built on the meadow or haugh close to a river—namely, what is properly its flood-course; a kind of situation where no human habitations should ever be built. It is of course more or less inundated at every considerable flood, and thus exposed to no small inconvenience, as well as damage. These evils may be considered as the natural punishment inflicted on the people for the solecism against nature which they have committed. It may be safely presumed that, while their town stands there, it will be liable to such disasters as that here described, whether general assemblies reform upwards or downwards within its walls, and in whatever spirit the inhabitants may regard their consequent sufferings. They are, however, not alone in this respect, as, unfortunately, the low banks of rivers are the seats of many towns and parts of towns in all parts of the world.

It is remarkable that, though there had been a bridge across the Tay at Perth so early as the beginning of the thirteenth century, the structure now destroyed was not replaced till the erection of the present beautiful fabric in 1771, the intercourse during the intermediate hundred and fifty years being maintained by ferry-boats.

Nov
The Record of Privy Council at this time gives an example of the conduct of a north-country gentleman under ban of the law. George Meldrum of Haltoun had been put to the horn and denounced rebel for some failure of duty towards James Crichton of Frendraught and other persons; and it became necessary for the Marquis of Huntly, as sheriff of Aberdeen, to send a force for the capture of his person. James Gordon of Knockespock and George Gordon of Gowie went with a band for this purpose.

At their approach, Meldrum was out in the fields; but he no sooner saw them, than, surmising their design, he fled to his house, closed the gates, and prepared to stand a siege. They, anxious to vindicate the royal authority, beleaguered the house, resolved not to leave it till they should have reduced the occupant to his majesty’s obedience. They had lain about the place forty-eight hours, when John Innes of Crombie, hearing of what was going on, came to them in the utmost possible haste, mounted on his best horse, declaring to them his desire to deal with George for the purpose of inducing him to submit. ‘He entreated the deputies that, with their allowance, he might go and confer with the said George thereanent; whereunto they very gladly yielded, seeing they sought nought but obedience.... The Laird of Crombie in the meantime seemed very busy in going and coming to and frae the said George, feeding the deputies with false conceits and hopes, and sometimes with vain promises that he himself wald be cautioner for the said George, for the satisfaction of all his creditors . and so, under this false pretext, having abused the . . . . deputies their sincere and upright meaning making them to believe all that he spak, and sae to be so much the more careless of looking to the house, he then brought the said George out of the house, set him upon his best horse, and put him away, to the great contempt and mocking of justice.’ For this conduct, the Laird of Crombie was denounced as a rebel.

1622, Mar 20
Margaret Wallace, the wife of John Dinning, a clothier in Glasgow, was tried before the Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh, for sundry acts of witchcraft, and as a common practiser of that nefarious art. She was reported to have been a friend and confederate of one Christian Graham, a notorious witch of the same city, who was tried, condemned, and burnt in the preceding year. There is something singular in Mrs Dinning’s case, for some of the acts of criminality urged against her were cures for which no other than a humane motive was or could be imputed. The case is also curious on account of the remarkable resemblance of some of the means or modes of cure to the proceedings of the modern mesmeric hospital.

It was alleged of Margaret, that she had been a witch for eight or nine years. It was evident that she looked up to Christian Graham as her preceptress and superior. About four years before the time of her trial, being in the house of one Vallance, in Glasgow, she had taken a sudden fit of sickness, and sent for Graham, who came immediately to her relief. Taking Margaret tenderly in her arms, and kissing her, Graham said: ‘Nothing shall ail my dear bird;’ then led her down stairs, and conducted her to her own house, where she completely recovered. The two women coming back to Vallance’s house, found a little child of his, named Margaret, at the bottom of the stair, and it was alleged that they threw the sickness upon her. The child was found by her mother crying dismally; and all that night she lay in horrible pain, with pitiful screeches, shouts, and cries, apparently deprived of the power of her body. Margaret Wallace, coming next day to see the child, ‘declarit it was the sudden trance or disease that she had ta’en the day before, and wified the bairn’s mother to send for Christian Graham to cure her and relieve her thereof.’ The mother ‘having absolutely refused sae to do, saying she wald commit her bairn to God, and not mel with the devil or ony of his instruments, Margaret Wallace maist blasphemously answered again, that "Christian Graham could do as mickle in curing of that disease, as gif God himself wald come out of heaven and cure her—and, albeit the deid-strake were laid on, she could tak it aff again— and without her help there could be nae remeed to the bairn!" Thereafter, without the mother’s knowledge, Christian Graham was brought in by Margaret Wallace to the bairn; at whase coming, Margaret lifted up the bairn’s head, and Christian took her by the shackle-bane [wrist], and brought the bairn forth of her bed where she was lying in great pain before; and thereafter, setting her down upon ane stool, with some crosses and signs made upon her, and by uttering of divers words, restored her to her health.’

It is quite evident here that Margaret was honourably candid, as against herself, in the view she took of the cause of the child’s ailment, and her subsequent conduct in trying to restore the child’s health, was creditable to her feelings. In another point of her dittay, however, feelings of a different kind came out.

It was alleged that Margaret had conceived a deadly hatred against Cuthbert Greig, a cooper, because of certain opprobrious speeches he had uttered against Christian Graham. ‘She avowed that she should make Cuthbert, within few days thereafter, not of ability to work or win himself ane cake of bread.’ According to this devilish threat, Cuthbert was soon after ‘visit and troublit with ane strange, unnatural, and unknawn disease,’ attended by continual sweating for fifteen days together, till in the end he was reduced to the utmost degree of weakness. It appeared that the man’s friends endeavoured to induce Margaret to interfere for his recovery; but she long persisted in refusing. At length, coming to his house, ‘she, to manifest her skill for his help, took him by the shackle-bane with the ane hand, and laid her other hand upon his breast, and, without ony word-speaking, save only by moving of her lips, passed frae him at that instant.’ Returning next morning, ‘she took him by the arm and bade him rise, wha at that time and fifteen days before, was not able to lift his legs without help.’ ‘She, having urged him to rise, and taking him by the hand, brought him out of his bed, and led him butt the house’ [into the outer apartment], where he ‘walkit up and down the floor, without help or support of ony.’ From that time, it is stated, he quickly recovered from his illness. Here, too, it must be owned, Margaret came ultimately to act a humane part.

Another child having an uncouth sickness, Wallace associated with Graham in a practice for her cure. They went under cloud of night ‘to the yard of James Finlay, burgess of Glasgow, where they remained the space of ane hour together practising sorcery and witchcraft, for curing of the bairn by unlawful means,’ and ‘that same night the sickness was ta’en all the bairn and she convalesced thereof.’ For this, the two practitioners got a goose and a pint of wine. On another occasion, Wallace was alleged to have inflicted deadly sickness on a child, and allowed her to die.

Margaret had good counsel at her trial, and a stout defence was made; but all in vain. She was sentenced to be worried at a stake and burnt on the Castle Hill—Pit.

May 22
A Dunkirk ship, belonging to the king of Spain, came up to Leith pursued by two Dutch waughters, but both were quickly driven out of the Firth of Forth by a west wind. A few days thereafter, the same vessels came back to Leith, ‘where they had ane great fecht, frae twelve at night till four in the morning, and many men slain.' The magistrates of Edinburgh interfered to prevent further hostilities, and the three vessels lay there inactive for half a year, the Dunkirker not being able to get away for fear of the superior metal of her enemies. At length, the king ordered that the Dunkirker should be allowed to go out, without being followed by the waughters for a couple of tides. On the 4th of May 1623, this vessel left the harbour accordingly, but it ran upon the Mussel-scap, ‘within two pair of butt-lengths to the Bulwark,’ and thus in due time became liable to the attack of the waughters. While these were playing their guns upon her, the authorities in the city, knowing well the king’s favour for Spain, whose Infanta his son was at this time courting, mustered forces and cannon, and came hastily to the rescue. Finding that the Dutch had boarded her, and put up the Prince of Orange’s colours, they sent men on board to put up the flag of the king of Great Britain. The people shewed themselves ill affected to the object. ‘Some few went down, with their swords, and their cloaks about them. The president, chiding the provost and bailies, said: "I always said to his majesty that Edinburgh was but a nest of traitors. I shall write to his majesty of this your rebellion." It was answered: "Edinburgh is not bound to serve in such a service without their burgh roods." An effort was made to secure the vessel within the harbour—’ it was sport to see the lords and their gentlemen hailing St Ambrose with a rope into the harbourie. But they laboured in vain, for the water begun to fall.’ The end of the business was, that, one night, the Dutch, after respectfully removing the guard and flag, set the vessel on fire, and having destroyed it, set sail for their own seas.’

May 29
‘The Landgrave of Hesse’s eldest son, of the second marriage, came to Edinburgh. His lodging and entertainment was not looked to with that respect that became.’
—Cal.

June 3
'...there was a fiery dragon, both great and long, appeared to come from the south to the north, spouting fire from her, half an hour after the going to of the sun.’—Cal.

This was a wretched summer. A fast was ordered at Aberdeen, July 21st, on account of ‘the felt wrath of God by this present plague of dearth and famine, and the continuance thereof threatened by thir tempestuous storms and inundations of weets likely to rot the fruits on the ground.’—A. K. S. R.

The usual consequence is recorded: ‘About the harvest, and after, there was such ane universal sickness in all the country as the like has not been heard of—but specially in this burgh, that no family in all the city was free of this visitation. There was also great mortality among the poor.’—Chron. Perth.

July
An act of Privy Council of this date aims at a restriction of the importation of wine into the Western Islands—’ with the insatiable desire whereof the said islanders are so far possest, that when there arrives ony ship or other vessel there with wines, they spend both days and nights in their excess of drinking, sae lang as there is any of the wine left; sae that, being overcome with drink, there falls out mony inconveuients amangs them, to the break of his majesty’s peace.’’

July 30
The Privy Council had the subject of that ‘infective weed callit tobacco’ under their attention. The king had formerly, upon good reasons of policy, forbidden its importation into the country; but this decree had been sadly evaded, insomuch that ‘the country was ever universally filled with tobacco, and public and common merchandise made of the same.’ Then his majesty had tried the restraining effect of a duty (20s Scots, or 1s. 8d. English per pound); but the tobacco-merchants had learned the trick of smuggling, and it was not likely they would let it lie unfruitful when they could thereby save the payment of a tax. It had now, accordingly, become necessary to impose a new restraint; and the importation was again prohibited, under pain of the goods being confiscated to his majesty’s use.—P. C. R.

An act of the Privy Council in the subsequent November explained that the king did not mean by this restraint ‘to deprive his loving subjects of the orderly sale and moderate use of tobacco,’ but only to prevent the abuse or excessive use of the herb. It was no part of his design to interfere with the patent which had been granted [November 7, 1616] to the late Captain William Murray, giving him the sole privilege of importing tobacco for the space of twenty-one years. He therefore now ordered proclamations to be issued, to the effect that the prohibition only held good against such as did not possess a licence under favour of Murray’s patent.—P. C. P. In the ensuing March, it was arranged that importers of tobacco should pay Murray’s representatives a duty of twenty shillings Scots per pound.

In 1624, the widow and daughter of Captain Murray resigned their relative’s patent into the hands of commissioners, for his majesty’s use, on their becoming bound to pay twenty thousand pounds Scots (£1666, 13s. 4d.) at three half-years terms.’

The prejudice of King James against tobacco was a strong feeling, partaking much of the character of antipathy. He published anonymously, and afterwards acknowledged the quaint pamphlet, A Counterblast to Tobacco, in which he argues against the use of the herb as a physical as well as moral corruption. Baker’s Chronicle states that the expedition of Sir Francis Drake, on its return in 1585 [6], passed by Virginia, ‘a colony which Sir Walter Raleigh had there planted;’ ‘from whence Drake brings home with him Ralph Lane, who was the first that brought tobacco into England, which the Indians take against crudities of the stomach.’ This does not comport with the ordinary notion entertained in England, which uniformly represents Raleigh as the first introducer of the Nicotian herb. Lane became a despised man on account of his pusillanimity in giving up the colony; and there seems all reason to believe that to him King James alludes in the following passage from the Counterblast: ‘It is not so long,’ says he, ‘since the first entry of this abuse amongst us here, as this present age cannot well remember both the first author and the form of the first introduction of it amongst us. It was neither brought in by king, great conqueror, nor learned doctor of physic. With the report of a great discovery for a conquest, some two or three savage men were brought in, together with a savage custom. But the pity is, the poor barbarous men died, but that vile barbarous custom is yet alive, yea, in fresh vigour; so as it seems a miracle to me how a custom, springing from so vile a ground, and brought in by a father so generally hated, should be welcomed upon so slender a warrant.’

If a tradition existing in 1667 is .to be believed, King James was fain on one occasion to get over his antipathy to tobacco; but, to be sure, the compelling cause was a powerful one. ‘The smoke of it’ [tobacco], says a writer of that date, ‘is one of the wholesomest scents that is, against all contagious airs, for it o’ermasters all other smells, as King James, they say, found true, when being once hunting, a shower of rain drove him into a pigsty/or shelter, where he caused a pipefull to be taken on purpose."

May 18
A trafficking Jesuit, named George Mortimer, had lately been detected in the house of one Haddow, in Glasgow, and he and Haddow were both taken into custody. The king lost no time in ordering a court of justice to be held in Glasgow for the trying of Haddow and his wife for the crime of resetting Jesuits, certifying that, if found guilty, they should be banished the kingdom—as the impunity of the offence ‘might hearten that wicked and pernicious sort of people more bauldly to go on in perverting good subjects in religion, and withdrawing them from their dutiful obedience to us.’ He at the same time wrote to the principal ecclesiastical authorities, desiring them to consult about the best means of checking the present ‘new growth of popery,’ that ‘thereby the world may see that we strike with the sword of justice equally against the papist and puritan, that thereby no just imputation may be laid upon our proceedings as a cause of the increase of popery.’

In September, we learn that Mortimer lay a prisoner at Glasgow, ‘so heavily diseased, as it is feared he shall hardly if ever escape.’ The king—’ because we do not desire the lives of ony of that sort of people, if we may be secured from ony harm which they micht do by the perversion of ony of our guid subjects in their duty to God and us ‘—was now pleased to order that he should be committed to some ship sailing to a foreign port, ‘with certification to him, that gif at ony time hereafter he shall return, it will be capital unto him.’—P. C. R.

This and some other instances of lenity towards Romish clergymen were ill looked on by the zealous Presbyterians, and there arose a fama to the king’s prejudice. On the 30th of October, he wrote from Hitchinbrooke to his Scottish councillors, in great indignation at a report which had gone abroad, in consequence of some late circumstances, to the effect that he intended to ‘tolerate or grant liberty of conscience!’ ‘The foolish apprehension thereof’ had ‘given occasion both to papist and puritan to tak heart and grow insolent, the one vainly boasting of the said pretendit liberty, and the other with a seeming fear thereof.’ ‘God knows,’ says the king solemnly, ‘that what proccedit in that course concerning the papists here was without ony such intention.’ It was ‘groundit upon good reasons of state, in the deep and mystery whereof every man is not to dive nor wyda’ His conscience and his works alike bore witness of his constancy in the right course. So he ‘could not but marvel how ony of our subjects can be possest with so unjust ane opinion of us.’ The Council was enjoined immediately to consult with the Archbishop of St Andrews as to the best measures for the ‘curbing of insolent papists and disconform preachers.’ In case any of the former had shewn themselves in consequence of the pretended liberty, they were to be severely punished, as an example and terror to others. The Council, acknowledging his majesty’s ‘most religious and upright disposition towards the suppression of popery,’ communicated accordingly with the archbishop, requesting him to have a care to give his majesty satisfaction.—P. C. B.

Oct
George Earl Marischal, a noble of great wealth and influence, who has already been under our notice, was now approaching the end of his earthly pilgrimage. After his death, his countess, who had hastily re-married, was accused of having been concerned, along with the gentleman whom she took for her second husband—Sir Alexander Strachan of Thornton, knight—in stealing forth of his lordship’s house of Benholm a green coffer belonging to him, containing money and other valuables, besides the furniture of the house, and a bag containing evidents of property. James Keith of Benholm was accused of having a share in the same crime.

The case is worthy of notice, chiefly on account of the list of articles contained in the coffer—evidencing as they do a degree of wealth which few will be prepared to find belonging to a Scottish nobleman of that age. There were—’of Portugal ducats and other species of foreign gold to the avail of twenty thousand pounds or thereby; thretty-sax dozen of gold buttons; ane rich jewel all set with diamonts, whilk the earl resavit as ane gift given to him the time he was ambassador in Denmark, worth sax thousand merks; the Queen of Denmark’s picture in gold, set about with rich diamonts, estimat to five thousand merks; ane jasp stane for steming of bluid, estimat to five hundred French crowns; ane chenyie of equal pearl, wherein was four hundred pearls great and small; twa chenyies of gold, of twenty-four unce wecht; ane other jewel of diamonts set in gold worth three thousand merks; ane great pair of bracelets, all set with diamonts, price thereof five hundred crowns; the other pair of gold bracelets, at sax hundred pounds the pair; ane turcas ring worth ten French crowns; ane diamont set in ane ring, price twenty-eight French crowns; with ane number of other small rings set with diamonts and other rich stanes in gold, worth three hundred French crowns; mair sixteen thousand merks of silver and gold ready-cunyit, whilk was within the said green coffer; together with the haill tapestry, silver-work, bedding, and other guids, geir, and plenishing, being within the said place.’—Pit.

The king, in a letter to the Chancellor Hay, dated 22d August 1624, alludes to a recommendation he had formerly sent, that this injury to his esteemed councillor the Earl Marisehal should be inquired into, and adds: ‘Whereas we are informed that, in a later letter under our hand, we have shewn to you that it was not our pleasure nor meaning in ony former letters to hurt the said Lady Marischal or ony other person, these are now expressly to mak it known to you, that we nather gave direction to insert any sic clause in our letters, nather, at the putting of our hand to the samen, did talc heed thereto, nor never meant ony sic favour to her who hath so ill deserved of one for whose sake we were only to respect her.’ And then he added a command to proceed with the case against the peccant lady.—An. Scot.

1623, Jan
‘Lord Colville took journey to France, to crave the re-establishment of the Scots Guard and Company of Scottish Men at Arms, according to their first institution and the French king’s promise often made to that effect.’—Bal.

The Scots Guard of the French king was an old institution, and for a long time past the command had passed from generation to generation of the Sieurs D’Aubigné (Earls and Dukes of Lennox). Louis XIII. readily agreed to the proposed revival of the corps, and designed to confer the command on Ludovick, Duke of Richmond and Lennox, the favourite councillor of King James. It chanced, however, that the duke was suddenly cut off by apoplexy (February 1624), ‘beloved and lamented’ beyond all remembered example, ‘because he was naturally inclined to do good without distinction of persons.’—G. H. S. The honour was therefore transferred to his nephew, Lord Gordon, son of the Marquis of Huntly.

In July 1625, Lord Gordon made his first muster of the corps on the Links of Leith, in presence of several officers deputed by the French king for that purpose. These gentlemen had been conducted to Edinburgh by Sir Robert Gordon, Tutor of Sutherland; they were there entertained in the handsomest manner by the Lord Gordon and other nobles, ‘and sent home again to their master, the French king, in great satisfaction and content.’ Lord Gordon’s younger brother, Lord Melgum, was his lieutenant, and the first gentleman of the company was Sir William Gordon, son of George Gordon of Kindroch, a branch of the family of Pitlurg.—G. H. S.

June 20
'.....the king’s picture in the hall of the palace of Linlithgow fell . . . . and brake in pieces. The like befell the king of France’s picture, in that same place, six weeks before his death.’
—Cal.

Such incidents were then invariably noted with superstitious awe. Aubrey tells us that on the first day of the sitting of the Long Parliament, the picture of Archbishop Laud fell in his closet, by the breaking of the string.’

George, Earl of Caithness, was one of the most unruly spirits of his age. The almost uncontrolled power which he possessed in his own remote country, was generally employed by him in advancing base and selfish purposes, and half his life was passed in a state of outlawry. Sometimes he is found at war with the Sutherland family, sometimes with his neighbours the Mackays of Strathnaver. One year, he is proclaimed a rebel; the next, he is found honoured with a royal commission against some other rebel. (See the account of the case of the Earl of Orkney in 1615.) He was overwhelmed with debt, yet did not regard it much. His son, Lord Berriedale, having become responsible for him, lay five years in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, as a prisoner to the earl’s creditors, while Caithness himself passed a pleasant life in his sea-cliff fortalices of Girnigo and Aikergill, in the far north. There must have been something plausible about this singular noble. Notwithstanding all the injuries he had inflicted on the Sutherland family, and the badness of his general character, he contrived, in 1619, to patch up a reconciliation with Sir Robert Gordon, a most respectable man, a friend and servant of the king, and who represented the interests of that great family. He had on that occasion visited Sir Robert in Sutherland, and Sir Robert in his turn spent several days with the earl at Girnigo. The truce, however, was not of long continuance, for the Earl of Caithness’s outrages were incessant. It was felt by the Privy Council as a scandal to the country, that such a hardy rebel against the ordinary authorities of the land should exist, and they looked about for the means of putting him down. The usual expedient of the age was resorted to—namely, to employ some other great man against him—thus accomplishing by a kind of private war what ought to have been the business of a force of their own. Sir Robert was the man they pitched upon.

Behold, then, this courtier of St James’s and Newmarket, leaving those scenes in the south where he was accustomed to meet Bacon and (not many years ago) Shakspeare, and coming down to the land of Mackays, Guns, and Sinclairs, in order to conduct an army against one of those rude grandees who could even trouble a king. He had a strange associate in the enterprise; Lord Berriedale had been liberated from prison, on a paction with the creditors, that he might do what he could to bring his heartless father within the grasp of the law.

Sep 3
Sir Robert’s forces were the Clan Sutherland and their friends, a selection of the most active and hardy, and all well armed. Assembling in Strathullie, and having been properly arranged and officered, they lost no time in setting forth to cross the Ord. A company of the Clan Gun went before to clear the ground and prevent surprise. Before they had advanced far into Caithness, they learned that the earl, unable to withstand so great a force, had deserted the country, and taken refuge in Orkney, intending to go thence to Norway. At Latheron, James Sinclair of Murkle, Sir William Sinclair of Mey, the Laird of Forss, and some other Caithness magnates, came to yield their obedience and offer their assistance. Sir Robert received them with great civility, but ‘gave small trust to some of them; neither suffered he any of the inhabitants to come in or go out of the army after the setting of the sun until sunrising.’

Passing Wick, he conducted his troops to Girnigo, a castle so strongly placed on the verge of a lofty cliff overhanging the sea, that there might have been some difficulty in taking it. The keys, however, were at once rendered up, and so the army took quiet possession of the fortress. They went forward, and, in like manner took Aikcrgill and Keiss, two forts which the earl had abandoned in succession. Meanwhile, Sir Robert had spies throughout all Caithness to report to him about the dispositions of the people. They were said to be quiet, but angry that any of the House of Sutherland should be charged with such a commission against their lord.

Learning that Lady Caithness, who was his cousin-german, had removed to a house a few miles distant, Gordon went to pay his respects to her. She pleaded for her husband, on the ground that he was not attempting any resistance; but Sir Robert left her no hopes of his being speedily pardoned. He proceeded with deliberation to settle Lord Berriedale in possession of the country and its fortresses, and made various other arrangements for its benefit; after which he returned in triumph to Dunrobin, and dismissed his men. ‘Thus you see how the Earl of Caithness, having attained to the top of fortune’s wheel, and to the height of his desires, by his service in Orkney, did by his own misdemeanours, and wicked actions, fall into this extremity, which a man of his life and conversation could not escape. Neither could the Earl of Orkney’s example, which was recent before his eyes, divert him from the course which brought him to this misery. A notable example to posterity.’—G. H. S.

During the earlier half of this year, Scotland suffered under a famine of extreme severity. There was a vast increase to the usually inordinate number of beggars, in consequence of many of the poorer class of tenants throwing their farms in the hands of their landlords, and wandering forth in search of food. And it is remarked that the condition of these new mendicants was the most miserable of all, ‘because they, being for the most part ashamed to beg, underlies all the extremities wherethrough the pinching of their bellies may affect them; whereas, by the contrair, strong and sturdy beggars, by their importunity and crying, and sometimes by extorting of almous, are in some measure relieved.’ The administrators of the state are found in alarm that, unless something be done to enable the poor to tide over till the new harvest should be realised in September, ‘numbers of them will betake themselves to live by stowth or [ere] they will starve through hunger, whilk will not only produce a foul imputation agains the whole land, but the wrath and anger of God will be wakened.’ At the date noted, therefore, the Privy Council took measures for bringing the principal men together in their respective county towns to arrange for a taxation according to means and substance, in order to procure victual, for the poor. A hundred merks for every thousand pounds of substance was the rate recommended.

In July, the famine ‘increased daily, till at last many, both in burgh and land, died of hunger. Many poor came to Edinburgh for succour, of which number some died in the streets.’ A fast was held on account of the calamity; ‘the sermons began every day in the week at seven hours, and ended at nine. Immediately after the fast was ended, that same night, 7th of July, there was such a fire in the heaven, with thunder and fire-flaught, that the hearers and beholders thought verily that the day of judgment was come.’—Cal.

‘There was this harvest-time ane great mortality . . . . ten or twelve died ordinarily every day [in Perth] from midsummer to Michaelmas’ [September 29].—Chron. Perth.

It was probably to this famine that a story told by Wodrow refers. While the poor people were dying in great numbers in the fields, ‘some people passing by saw a young child about seven years old, lying and dying by a dike-side—which could not but move their pity, though they could give it no relief. They observed the child to get up to its feet, and looking up cheerfully towards heaven, clapping its hands, making a tripping and dancing motion with its feet, they heard it cry: "O! Lamb’s days for evermore! O! Lamb’s days for evermore! I see heaven! Lamb’s days for evermore!" And with that it presently fell down and died. I had this from my mother, who had it from her mother, and that it was told as a certain truth.’—W. A.

July 10
Bessie Smith, of Lesmahago, appeared before the presbytery of Lanark, and confessed sundry dealings with unlawful arts. She had ‘charmed the heart-fevers.’ The patients, kneeling under her direction, asked their health ‘for God’s sake, for Sanct Spirit, for Sanct Aikit, for the nine maidens that died in the boortree in the Ladywell Bank—This charm to be buik and beil to me, God grant that site be.’ She also ‘appointed them the wayburn leat, to be eaten nine mornings.’—R. P. L.


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