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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of Charles I. 1625 - 1637 Part B


Dec 2
George Lauder of the Bass, and his mother, ‘Dame Isobel Hepburn Lady Bass,’ were at this time in embarrassed circumstances, ‘standing at the horn at the instance of divers of their creditors.’ Nevertheless, as was complained of them, ‘they peaceably bruik and enjoy some of their rents, and remain within the craig of the Bass, presuming to keep and maintein themselves, so to elude justice and execution of the law.’ A Scotch laird and his mother holding out against creditors in a tower on that inaccessible sea-rock, form rather a striking picture to the imagination. But debt even then had its power of exorcising romance. The Lords of Council issued a proclamation, threatening George Lauder and his mother with the highest pains if they did not submit to the laws. A friend then came forward and represented to the lords ‘the hard and desolate estate’ of the two rebels, and obtained a protection for them, enabling them to come to Edinburgh to make arrangements for the settlement of their affairs.—P. C.
R.

Under encouragement, as was supposed, from the Duke of Buckingham, the Scottish Catholics had for some time been raising their heads in a manner not known for many years before. They began to indulge a hope that possibly a certain degree of toleration might be extended to them. Some impetuous spirits amongst them went so far in ‘insolency’ as to write pasquinades upon the Bishop of Aberdeen, and post them upon his own church doors. The Privy Council were too well aware of the unpopularity of the king on account of the episcopal innovations which he loved, to allow him to remain under any additional odium on account of a faith about which he was, at the best, indifferent. Besides, ‘taking order’ with popery was always a cheap and ready means of making political capital against Presbyterian opponents. We accordingly find the Council at this date issuing orders regarding a number of persons of consideration in the north, as well as the priests whom they entertained, but particularly against the Marquis of Huntly, whose protection they deemed to be the chief cause why popery was not better repressed in that quarter.

There was first a recital regarding a host of men who acted as officers, or lived as tenants, upon the extensive estates of the marquis—’Mr Robert Bisset of Lessendrum, bailie of Strabogie; Alexander Gordon of Drumquhaill, chamberlain of Strabogie; Patrick Gordon of Tilliesoul; John Gordon, in Little-mill; Adam Smith, chamberlain of the Enzie; Robert Gordon, in Haddo; Barbara Law, spouse to the said Adam Smith; Margaret Gordon, goodwife of Cornmellat; Malcolm Laing, in Gulburn; and Mr Adam Strachan, chamberlain to the Earl of Aboyne.’ It was stated of them, that they had remained indifferent under the ‘fearful sentence of excommunication,’ and the consequent process of horning—that is, rebellion—frequenting all parts of the country ‘as if they had been true and faithful subjects.’ They were alleged to be encouraged in their rebellious life by the marquis, who was properly answerable for them; so he was charged to present them on a certain day of February next, under pain of horning.

There was next a recital regarding a number of persons, including, besides several of the above, ‘Mr Alexander Irving, burgess of Aberdeen; Thomas Menzies of Balgownie; Walter Leslie, in Aberdeen; Robert Irwing, burgess there; John Gordon, appearand of Craig; James Forbes of Blackton; Robert Gordon, in Cushnie; James Philip, in Easton; James Con, in Knockie; John Gordon, in Bountie; Alexander Harvie, in Inverury; John Gordon, in Troups-mill; John Spence, notar in Pewsmill; Francis Leslie, brother to Capuchin Leslie; Alexander Leslie, brother to the Laird of Pitcaple; Thomas Cheyne, in Ranniston; William Seton of Blair; Thomas Laing, goldsmith, burgess of Aberdeen; Alexander Gordon, in Tilliegreg; Alexander Gordon, in Convach; Agnes Gordon his spouse; Margaret Gordon, spouse to Robert Innes, in Elgin;’ who had all been excommunicated and denounced rebels for the same reason: also seven men and two women, including, besides several of those formerly cited, Alexander Gordon, in Badenoch; Angus M’Ewen M'William there; and Alexander Gordon, ‘appearand’ of Cairnbarrow; and Helen Coutts his spouse; who had been put to the horn for not coming to answer for their ‘not conforming themselves to the religion presently professed within this kingdom, and for their scandalous behaviour otherwise, to the offence of God, disgrace of the Gospel, and misregard of his majesty’s authority.’ Having most ‘proudly and contemptuandly remained under excommunication this long time bygane,’ they went about everywhere as if they had been good subjects, ‘hunting and seeking all occasion where they may have the exercise of their false religion; for which purpose they are avowed resetters of Jesuits, seminary and mass priests, accompanying them through the country, armed with unlawful weapons.’ The Marquis of Hnntly, as sheriff-principal of Aberdeen, and Lord Lovat, as ‘sheriff of Elgin and Forres,’ were charged to search for and capture these persons, in order that they might be punished.

There was, finally, an order regarding the priests, who, it was said, were not only corrupting the religion of the people, but perverting their loyalty—’namely, Mr Andrew Steven, callit Father Steven; Mr John Ogilvie; Father Stitchill; Father Hegitts; Capuchin Leslie, commonly callit The Archangel; Father Ogilvie; Mr William Leslie, commonly callit The Captain; Mr Andrew Leslie; Mr John Leslie; Christie, commonly callit The Principal of Dowie; with other twa Christies; Father Brown, son to umwhile James Brown at the Nether Bow of Edinburgh; Father Tyrie; three Robertsons callit Fathers; Father Robb; Father Paterson; Father Pittendreich; Father Dumbreck; and Doctor William Leslie.’ The Marquis of Huntly, as the proper legal authority for the purpose, ‘and the special man of power, friendship, authority, and commandment in the north parts of the kingdom, and who for many other respects is obleist to contribute his best means for the furtherance and advancement of his majesty’s authority and service,’ was charged to hunt out and apprehend these pestilent men, that the laws might be executed upon them.

To these measures was added a proclamation, chiefly to the people of the northern districts, pointing out the priests by name, as the ‘most pernicious pests in this commonweal,’ and commanding ‘that nane presume nor take upon hand to reset, supply, nor furnish meat, drink, house, nor harboury’ to them, ‘nor keep company with them, nor convoy them through the country, nor to have no kind of dealing nor trafficking with them,’ under the penalties laid down in the acts of parliament. There was a like proclamation regarding the excommunicated laymen and women above mentioned. At the same time, the bishop and magistrates of Aberdeen were commissioned, to go with armed bands, and endeavour to apprehend both the priests and their resetters.

While charging the Marquis of Huntly with some duty against the papists on his own estates and those throughout his jurisdiction, the Council were quite aware of their false position in regard to him, and they deemed it proper (December 4) to send a letter to the king on that special point. They expressed their belief that the chief cause of the late increase of popery and insolency of the papists lay in the fact, that the execution of the laws on these matters was in the hands of notoriously avowed professors of the same faith—men of such power, that inferior officers, however well affected to their duty, were overawed. They in all grief and humility presented this case for his majesty’s serious consideration, entreating that he would debar from the Council and from public employments all who were suspected of popery; manifestly pointing to the marquis. Meanwhile, they said, we have directed warrants to the sheriffs and other authorities, ‘to apprehend the delinquents if they can or darr.’

The Marquis of Huntly, who had been last converted from popery a dozen years ago, and had since, as usual, relapsed, took little trouble with a commission which he felt to be so disagreeable. When the 3d of February arrived, his depute came before the Council, and made some excuse for him, on the ground that execution of the warrants had been delayed by the wintry weather until the delinquents had all escaped; adding a petition that they would not press him to remove his chamberlains till these men should have accounted to him for large sums which they owed to him. Feeling that the marquis had wilfully failed in his duty, they denounced him as a rebel.

On the 18th of June 1629, the Council issued a charge against Sir John Campbell of Caddell; Mr Alexander Irving, burgess of Aberdeen; Thomas Menzies of Balgownie; Mr Robert Bisset of Lessendrum; John Gordon of Craig; James Forbes of Blackton; Thomas Cheyne of Ranniston; William Seton of Blair; Alexander Gordon of Tilliegreg; Patrick Gordon of Tilliesoul; and Margaret Gordon, goodwife of Cornmellat; representing that, notwithstanding all that had been lately done, they continue obdurate against kirk and law, going about as if nothing were amiss, and enjoying possession of ‘their houses, goods, and geir, whilk properly belongs to his majesty as escheat.’ Seeing that by the latter circumstance they are ‘strengthened and fostered in their popish courses,’ the Council ordained that officers-at-arms ‘pass, pursue, and take the said rebels their houses, remove them and their families furth thereof, and keep and detein the same in his majesty’s name;’ also to search out, poind, and uplift all ‘geir’ of theirs wherever to be found, and bring it to the exchequer. All neighbours were commanded to assist in enforcing these orders.

It was ascertained that the acts against resetting of priests had been ‘eluded by the wives of persons repute and esteemed to be sound in religion, who, pretending misknowledge of the actions of their wives in thir cases, thinks to liberate themselves of the danger of the said resett, as if they were not to answer for their wives’ doings.’ Wherefore, the Council ordained that the husband shall be always, in such cases, answerable for the wife.

At the same time, to gratify the desire of his Scottish Council, the king sent an order that, for the detection of papists in high places, the communion should be administered to all his councillors and judges, all advocates, writers, and officers of the government, in his chapel at Holyroodhouse, and this to be repeated at least once a year. At his majesty’s command, a kind of convention of dignitaries of church and state met at the same place to give the Council their assistance. The result was a commission issued (July 25, 1629) to a great number of nobles and gentlemen, in the several districts popishly affected, to search for and bring to justice those ‘pernicious and wicked pests,’ ‘avowed enemies to God’s truth and all Christian government,’ the Jesuits, seminary and mass priests concealed throughout the country; also to seize all persons of whatever rank, ‘whom they sall deprehend going in pilgrimage to chapels and wells, or whom they sall know themselves to be guilty of that crime,’ that they may be punished according to act of parliament. Supposing the priests and other delinquents should fly to fortified places, then the commissioners were empowered and ordered to ‘follow, hunt, and pursue them with fire and sword, assiege the said strengths and houses, raise fire, and use all other force and warlike engine that can be had for winning and recovery thereof, and apprehending of the said Jesuits and excommunicat papists being therein.’ The commissioners at the same time received assurance that no act of bloodshed on either side, or any destruction of property occasioned in the execution of this order, should be imputed to them as a fault.

The dignitaries and ministers of the Established Church, without any appearance of unwillingness, took part in this persecution. Many of the bishops sat as members of the Privy Council, and we hear of the ‘dioceses and presbyteries’ helping the government to lists of avowed and suspected papists, against whom proceedings might be taken. None were more active than Spottiswoode, arch-bishop of St Andrews, and Forbes, bishop of Aberdeen. It was no blank fusillade for mere tenor. A great number of the gentlemen and ladies aimed at in the fulminations of the Council were really struck in their persons and estates. We hear of many being thrown into prison, and kept there till they either professed conformity or gave caution that they would depart from the country. Their property was at the same time held as escheat to the crown.

Agreeably to the royal order, the communion was administered in the king’s chapel at Holyroodhouse in July, ‘by sound of trumpet,’ to all such of his majesty’s councillors, members of the College of Justice, and others, as were disposed thus to testify their worthiness of the royal favour. On the 6th of November, the king wrote a letter to his Scottish Council on this subject. ‘Understanding,’ he says, ‘that some popishly affected have neglected this course, we, out of our care and affection for the maintenance of the professed religion, are pleased to will and require that you remove from our council-table all such who are disobedient in that kind.’ This the Council (December 3) obediently resolved to do.

The Council was much importuned by the captive papists for relief; but it was pithily ordained that none now or hereafter ‘sall be relieved out of ward, but upon obedience and conformity to the true religion, or else upon their voluntary offer of banishment furth of his majesty’s whole dominions.’

One remarkable captive was the Marchioness of Abercorn, whom we have already seen manifesting some ultra-ardour on her own side. This lady had lain for a long time in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh—a lodging which was loathsome in the reign of George III., and may be presumed to have been still worse in that of Charles I. The confinement had procured her ladyship ‘many heavy diseases, so as this whole last winter she was almost tied to her bed,’ and she now ‘found a daily decay and weakness in her person.’ The severity of the fate of this, as of some other persons, may be measured by the mercy extended to her. It being represented to the king that her ladyship, being oppressed with sickness and disease of body, required the benefit of a watering-place, he, being inclined, on the one hand, to do nothing that would derogate from the authority of the church, but, on the other, being unwilling that the lady should be ‘brought to the extremity of losing her life for want of ordinary remedies,’ ordered (July 9, 1629) that she should have a licence to go to the baths of Bristol, but only on condition that she should not attempt to appear at court, and after her recovery, return and put herself again at the disposal of the Council.

Her ladyship, after all, did not go to the Bristol baths, but, after a further restraint of six months in the Canongate [jail?], was permitted to go to reside in the house of Duntarvie, on condition that ‘she saIl contein herself [therein] so warily and respectively as she sall not fall under the break of any of his majesty’s laws;’ also that she should, while living there, have conference with the ministry, but allow none to Jesuits or mass priests. Her ladyship is found to have ‘conteined herself’ in Duntarvie for a considerable time, but to have at length been under a necessity of resorting to Paisley for the ‘outred’ of some weighty affairs. In March 1631, when she had been under restraint about three years, she was formally licensed to go to Paisley, but only under condition that she should not, while there, ‘reset Thomas Algeo nor no Jesuits,’ and return by a certain day under penalty of five thousand merks.

Some, while preparing to pass into exile, were naturally concerned about the means of living abroad. These persons, therefore, petitioned that some portion of their confiscated fortunes might be granted to them for their subsistence. The king took these petitions into consideration, and ‘out of his gracious bounty and clemency, in hope of their timely reclaiming,’ ordained that the proceeds of their estates should be divided into three parts, ‘whereof twa sall wholly belong to his majesty, and the third part his majesty does freely bestow upon the said persons;’ this, however, to be wholly forfeited, if the inventory of their possessions rendered by them should prove to be untrue.

Even the princely Huntly was obliged to bow to the storm. Breaking through an order of the Scottish Privy Council, he proceeded direct to court, in the hope of gaining something from the royal favour. Having resigned into the king’s hands his sheriffship of Aberdeen, and made some excuses for his non-execution of the Council’s orders, he obtained certain ‘instructions for the clergy of Scotland,’ ordering them to use Huntly, Angus, Nithsdale, and Abercorn ‘with discretion,’ and not proceed further against them till he should be consulted; also commanding that papist peeresses be not excommunicated, provided their husbands be responsible for them, and that they reset no Jesuits. Huntly then came (November 3) in humble form before the Council, made excuses for his non-execution of their orders, and besought them for a gift of his own confiscated property in behalf of some person whom be might nominate. Notwithstanding the king’s favourable letter, they demurred to this petition, and put him off for some weeks, at the same time taking caution that he should not pass north of the Tay. Coming again before them on the 8th of December, he was told that he could not be excused from ‘exhibiting’ the papists residing on his estates. He was also commanded to return on a certain day, when he might witness his daughters being ‘sequestrat for their better breeding and instruction in the grounds of the true religion.’

Amongst the movements in this important cause was one regarding the children of noted papists. It was feared that the ordinances for having them brought up under Protestant tutors had been much disregarded. The Earl of Angus had been ordered to place his eldest son, James Douglas, under Principal Adamson of the Edinburgh University, to have remained with him some certain space, in order to have his doubts in religion resolved. The young man had given his tutor the slip. The earl was therefore called before the Council. He explained that he had no knowledge of what the youth had done till it was past, and he had since sent him to the Duke of Lennox, that he might be introduced to some English university. He was obliged to crave pardon of the Council for what he had done. The representative of the great Douglases of the fifteenth century compelled, in the seventeenth, to give up the right to educate his own son, and confess himself a delinquent for even attempting such a thing! ‘The Earl of Errol’s twa daughters, the Laird of Dalgetty’s bairns, and the bairns of Alexander Gordon of Dunkinty,’ were said to be under ‘vehement suspicion of being corrupted in their religion by remaining in their fathers’ company.’ So likewise were the daughters of the Marquis of Huntly, the children of Lord Gray, and many others. The Earl of Nithsdale was ordered to ‘exhibit’ his son, that the Council might see if he was right in the faith. Even Lord Gordon, who soon after undertook a Commission for the government against the northern papists, was commanded to send his sons to a tutor approven of by the Archbishop of St Andrews.

We get a glimpse of some of the proceedings in regard to the estates of the Catholic gentlemen from a supplication presented to the Privy Council on the 15th of December 1629 by the commissioners of the diocese of Aberdeen. It proceeds to narrate that, it having pleased the Lords, ‘to the glory of God and comfort of all weel-affected subjects, for purging the land of popery, to grant sundry letters against excommunicat rebels, their persons, houses, and rents ‘—decreets, moreover, having been obtained in the Court of Session for poinding and arrestment—the officers had consequently dealt with certain friends of the victims, who had undertaken to labour the lands for the crop 1629, and to account for the result according to a valuation made ‘before the corns came to the hook;’ but there had been some slackness in the working out of these arrangements, ‘to the great hinder of his majesty’s service, and encouraging of these excommunicat rebels to continue in their obstinacy and disobedience.’ It was therefore necessary to take sharper methods; and a strict commission to the Bishop of Aberdeen was suggested. The Council accordingly ordered the bishop to call the officers before him, and have them ‘tried of their diligence’ and honest and dutiful carriage in this matter, and to see that they were prompted where necessary.

For further proceedings regarding the ‘excommunicat papists and rebels,’ see forward, under January 1630.

1629, Jan 26
On this day—an unusual season for thunder in our climate—a thunder-clap fell upon Castle-Kennedy, the seat of the Earl of Cassius in Ayrshire—’ which, falling into a room ‘where there were several children, crushed some dogs and furniture; but happily the children escaped. From thence descending to a low apartment, it destroyed a granary of meal. At the same time, a gentleman in the neighbourhood had about thirty cows, that were feeding in the fields, struck dead by the thunder."

Apr, 13
The case of John Weir ‘in Clenochdyke,’ who had married Isobel Weddell, the relict of his grand-uncle, and thus been guilty of ‘incest,’ was under the consideration of the Privy Council. Weir had been three years under excommunication for this crime, which the Council deemed ‘fit to procure the wrath and displeasure of God to the whole nation.’ The king’s advocate was now ordered to proceed with his trial, and, in the event of his conviction, to cause sentence to be passed; but they superseded execution till July. Weir was actually tried on the 25th of April, found guilty, and sentenced to be beheaded at the Cross of Edinburgb.’ After suffering a twelvemonth’s imprisonment under this sentence, he became a subject for the special mercy of the king, and was only banished the island for life.

Weir’s is not a solitary case. On the 19th of August in the same year, Henry Dick, ‘in Bandrum,’ was adjudged to lose his bead for a transgression in connection with the sister of his wife, this offence being regarded as incest, and misinterpreted as a breach of a well-known text which is still the basis of an English law. In July 1649, Donald Brymer for the same offence was sentenced to the same punishment. It is worthy of notice that, in June 1643, Janet Imrie, who had been the paramour of two brothers, was for that reason condemned to be beheaded.

One of the most remarkable of a large class of cases of this kind was that of Alexander Blair, a tailor in Currie, who had married his first wife’s half-brother’s daughter. For this offence, under reverence for the same misinterpreted text, he was condemned to lose his head! (September 9, 1630.)

it is deplorable to see these severe punishments inflicted for acts which neither interfere with any principle of nature, nor tend in any way to injure the rights of individuals or to trouble society. At the same time, the marriage of first-cousins, which tends to the deterioration of the race, was not forbidden. And offences of real consequence, as affecting the condition of individuals, were visited with comparatively light penalties. Thus, on the same day when Alexander Blair, tailor in Currie, was sentenced to lose his head for marrying his first wife’s half-brother’s daughter, William Lachlane was adjudged to banishment for life for bigamy. The jurisprudence of the country on these points was mainly guided by a few semi-religious or rather superstitious views, while the voice of God through nature no one thought of listening to or applying.

1629, May 14
Died Jean Gordon, remarkable in our history as the lady whom James Hepburn Earl of Bothwell divorced in 1567, in order to be enabled to ally himself to Queen Mary. She survived that frightful time, in peace and honour, for sixty-two years, exemplifying how durable are calmness and prudence in comparison with passion and guilt. Since her separation from Bothwell, she had been the wife of two other husbands—first, Alexander Earl of Sutherland; and second, the Laird of Boyne. ‘A virtuous and comely lady, judicious, of excellent memory, and of great understanding above the capacity of her sex; in this much to be commended, that, during the continual changes and particular factions of the court in the reign of Queen Mary, and in the minority of King James VI., (which were many,) she always managed her affairs with so great prudence and foresight, that the enemies of her family could never prevail against her, nor move those that were the chief rulers of the state at the time, to do anything to her prejudice; a time indeed both dangerous and deceitful. Amidst all these troublesome storms, and variable courses of fortune, she still enjoyed the possession of her jointure, which was assigned unto her out of the earldom of Bothwell, and kept the same until her death, yea, though that earldom had fallen twice into the king’s hands by forfeiture in her time..... By reason of her husband Earl Alexander his sickly disposition, together with her son’s minority at the time of his father’s death, she was in a manner forced to take upon her the managing of all the affairs of that house a good while, which she did perform with great care, to her own credit, and the weal of that family. She was the first that caused work the coal heugh beside the river of Brora, and was the first instrument of making salt there. This coal [now interesting chiefly in a geological point of view, as connected with the oolitic formation] was found before by Earl John, father of Earl Alexander; but he, being taken away by an untimely death, had no time to enterprise this work. This lady built the house of Cracock, where she dwelt a long time.’—G.H.S.

This character, though drawn by the partial hand of a son, may be accepted as on the whole a true, as it is certainly a pleasing description, of the divorcée of Bothwell. The lady was buried in Dornoch Cathedral.

July 18
A service to property depending at this time before the Court of Session between the Earl of Cassillis and the Earl of Wigton, these nobles appeared in Edinburgh, each with a multitude of followers, who paraded the streets in a tumultuous manner, and with such demonstrations of animosity as must have recalled the days of James VI. to many an anxious citizen. The Privy Council met in alarm, and appointed a committee to go and admonish the two litigant nobles about these unseemly appearances. It was enjoined that, while in town waiting on the service, they should not appear on the streets with more than twelve followers each, and that in peaceable manner, nor come to the bar with more than six, dismissing all others who had not known occasion to be present. At the same time, the noblemen who were the friends of the several parties were ‘to forbear the backing of them at this time,’ on pain of censure as ‘troublers of his majesty’s peace.’—P. C. R.

Throughout the whole time of the papist persecution, the Scottish authorities found it necessary to give a good deal of attention to matters of diablerie. Either witches and warlocks were particularly rife at that time, or the same enlightened spirit which assailed the papists was particularly keen-sighted and zealous in finding out offenders connected with the other world.

On the 30th of October 1628, the Earl of Monteath, Lord Justice-general of the kingdom, reported to the Privy Council the case of Janet Boyd, spouse to Robert Neill, burgess of Dumbarton, who had freely confessed that she had entered in covenant with the devil, had received his mark, had renounced her baptism, and been much too intimate with the above grisly personage, through whose power she had laid diseases upon sundry persons. The Council approved of a commission for trying Janet and for ‘the punishing of so foul and detestable a crime.’—P. C. R.

In the course of 1629, Isobel Young, spouse to George Smith, portioner in East Barns in Haddingtonshire, was burnt for witchcraft. She had been accused of both inflicting and curing diseases; and it appears that she and her husband had sent to the Laird of Lee to borrow his curing-stone for their cattle, which had the ‘routing ill.’ This is interesting as an early reference to the well-known Lee Penny, which is yet preserved in the family of Lockhart of Lee, being an ancient precious stone or amulet, set in a silver penny. It is related that Lady Lee declined to lend the stone, but gave flagons of water in which the penny had been steeped. This water, being drunk by the cattle, was believed to have effected their cure.

One Alexander Hamilton was apprehended as a notorious warlock, and put into the Tolbooth of Edinburgh—where he would have for a companion in captivity the Lady Abercorn, whose offence was not less metaphysical than his own. He ‘delated’ four women of the burgh of Haddington, and five other women of its neighbourhood, as guilty of witchcraft. The Privy Council sent orders (November 1629) to have the whole Circean nine apprehended; and as their poverty made it inconvenient to bring them to Edinburgh, the presbytery of Haddington was enjoined to examine them in their own district. What was done with them ultimately, we are not informed. Another woman, named Katherine Oswald, residing at Niddry near Edinburgh, was likewise accused by Hamilton, and taken into custody. This seems to have been considered an unusually important case, as four lawyers were appointed to act as assessors to the justices on her trial.—P. C. R. It was alleged of Katherine that she had that partial insensibility which was understood to be an undoubted proof of the witch quality. Two witnesses stated that they ‘saw ane preen put in to the heid, by Mr John Aird, minister, in the panel’s shoulder, being the devil’s mark, and nae bluid following, nor she naeways shrinking thereat.’

Hamilton alleged that he had been with Katherine at a meeting of witches between Niddry and Edmondstone, where they met with the devil. It was also stated that she had been one of a witch-party who had met at Prestonpans, and used charms, on the night of the great storm at the end of March 1625. But the chief articles of her dittay bore reference to cures which she had wrought by sorcery. Katherine was convicted and burned.—B. A.

In November, the Privy Council issued a commission to the Bishop of Dumblane for the examination of John Hog and Margaret Nicolson his spouse, ‘upon their guiltiness of the crime of witchcraft, with power to confront them with others who best can give evidence.’ This pair were soon after brought to the Edinburgh prison, whence, however, they were speedily released on caution for reappearance. The Lords, on the same day, issued a charge against ‘Margaret Maxwell spouse to Nicol Thomson, and Jean Thomson her daughter, spouse to umwhile Edward Hamilton, in Dumfries,’ who, it was said, had procured the death of the said Edward ‘by the devilish and detestable practice of witchcraft.’ Claud Hamilton of Mauchline-hole, brother of the deceased Edward, soon after (December 22, 1629) presented a petition to the Privy Council, claiming that they should order an examination of Geillie Duncan of Dumfries, now in hands there on suspicion of a concern in the fact. The Council accordingly commissioned the magistrates and ministers of Dumfries to effect this examination.

The warlock Alexander Hamilton also accused the Lady Home of Manderston, in Berwickshire, of having practised against the life of her husband by witchcraft. Patrick Abernethy, notar in Dunse, and William Mowat, a servant, were accordingly cited by the Council to come and give information regarding the case. The presence of Sir George himself was of course desirable; but Sir George, like many other good Scotch lairds, of that day and of later days, was under some danger of the law on account of his debts. It therefore became necessary to send him a protection, in order that he might be enabled to appear in the city. There does not seem to have been any other foundation for this charge than the fact, that Sir George Home and his wife did not live on amicable terms. Some months after (June 29, 1630), we find Sir George giving caution that he will not molest his wife or any of her tenants, ‘in their bodies, lands, rooms, possessions, corns, cattle, guids or geir, otherwise nor by order of law.’

Hamilton himself was tried (January 22, 1630), when it came out that he had begun his wicked career in consequence of meeting the devil in the form of a black man on Kingston Hills, in Haddingtonshire. Being engaged to serve the fiend, he was instructed to raise him by beating the ground thrice with a fir-stick, and crying: ‘Rise up, foul thief!’ He had consequently had him up several times for consultations; sometimes in the shape of a dog or cat, sometimes in that of a crow. By diabolic aid, he had caused a mill full of corn, belonging to Provost Cockburn, to be burned, merely by taking three stalks from the provost’s stacks, and burning them on the Garleton Hills. He had been at many witch-meetings where the enemy of man was present. This wretched man was sentenced to be worried at a stake and burned.

On the 3d of July 1630, the Council took order in the case of Alie Nisbet, midwife; of Hilton (apparently in Berwickshire), and also in that of John Neill, John Smith, and Katharine Wilson, ‘concerning their practice of witchcraft.’ Nisbet was accused of curing a woman by taking a pail with hot water and bathing the patient’s legs. This may appear as a very natural and proper kind of treatment; but there was an addition: she put her fingers into the water, and ran three times round the bed widdershins, or contrary to the direction of the sun, crying: ‘The bones to the fire, and the soul to the devil!’ thereby putting the disease upon another woman, who died in twenty-four hours. Nisbet also had put some enchanted water under a threshold, for the injury of a servant-girl against whom she had a spite, and who passing over it was bewitched, and died instantly. She was ‘worried and burnt.’—B. A.

In March 1631, occurred a case which throws some light upon the affair in which Sir George Home of Manderston was the intended victim. John Neil, in Tweedmouth, was then brought forward and tried for sorcery and witchcraft. It was alleged of him that ‘he made a man’s wife wash her husband’s shirt in a south running water, and then put it on him; whereupon be recovered.’ He professed skill in both laying on and taking off diseases. Amongst other things laid to his charge was ‘meeting with the devil and other witches on Coldingham Law, and consulting how Sir George Home of Manderston might be destroyed, to that end getting ane enchanted dead foal, and putting it in Sir George’s stable, under his horse’s manger and putting a dead hand enchanted by the devil in Sir George’s garden in Berwick; by which enchantments Sir George contracted a grievous disease, of which he could not be recovered till the said foal and hand were discovered and bunt.’ He was found guilty.’—B. A.

Nov 19
At this time, the country was overrun by a multitude of ‘strong and sturdy Irish beggars,’ who went in troops, extorting alms where it was not freely given them. ‘Where they perceive they can be masters, they commit sundry insolencies upon his majesty’s good subjects, who are not able to withstand them.’ Thus ‘the native poor are prejudged of their almous by the scoffery and oppression of thir sturdy beggars, who are an heavy and insupportable burden to the country.’ An order was issued by the Privy Council for clearing the country of this nuisance.—P. C. R.

Lady Jean Drummond, only daughter of the Earl of Perth, was married to the Earl of Sutherland, with a portion of 5000 merks, ‘the greatest portion that ever was given in Scotland before that time.’—Hist. House of Seytoun.

This notice may be held to imply that 5000 merks (£287, 17s. 4d.) was an uncommonly liberal portion for a woman of family in that age; but the writer is not correct in saying that it was unexampled till 1629. This will appear from the following notice, extracted from the Caldwell Papers, in which there are instances of equal or larger dowries before that time, as well as of some smaller: William Mure of Glanderston, marrying Elizabeth Hamilton, aunt to Gavin Commendator of Kilwinning, in 1559, received with her a dower of 400 merks, with a beneficial interest in two farms. In 1583, Lady Anne Montgomery of Eglintoun brought her husband, Lord Semple, 6000 merks. The dowry of Jean Hamilton, the vicar of Dunlop’s daughter, in 1613, was 5000 merks; that of Jean Knox of Ranfurly, 11,000 merks; Jean Mure of Glanderston, in 1671, 8000 merks; Margaret Mowat of Ingliston, in 1682. 12,000 merks.

When we turn back to an earlier age, we find what appears much greater simplicity on the point of tochering daughters. The Laird of Grant and Margaret Ogilvie, daughter of James Ogilvie of Deskford, were married in 1484. For a curious anecdote of their son, Shemus nan Creagh, see under February 7, 1592. ‘Their marriage-contract yet extant [dated 1484] gives account of the tocher, jointure, and friendship between these families. The tocher given by Sir James Ogilvie with his daughter to the Laird of Grant was three hundred merks, paid at five terms or years; that is, forty pounds Scots yearly; and the jointure given by Sir John to his lady, together with the provision of their children, was twenty merks’ worth of land yearly.’

Dec 26
In the fertile district between Falkirk and Stirling, there was a large moss with a little loch in the middle of it, occupying a piece of gradually rising ground; a highly cultivated district of wheat-land lay below. There had been a series of heavy rains, and the moss became overcharged with moisture. After some days, during which slight movements were visible on this quagmire, the whole mass began one night to leave its native situation, and slide gently down to the lower grounds. The people who lived on these lands, receiving sufficient warning, fled and saved their lives; but in the morning light they beheld their little farms, sixteen in number, covered six feet deep with liquid moss, and hopelessly lost.

The singular nature of this calamity, and the sad case of the poor people who had by it lost their all, drew general attention. The Privy Councillors sent commissioners to the place to ‘give order where and in what places draughts sall be casten, levels and passages made, and what else is fitting to be done, for securing the neighbouring lands from inundation and skaith.’ There was also a general collection of money throughout the kingdom for the relief of the sufferers.—P. C. R

1630, Jan
There is no room to doubt that the king, so far as he took any part in the prosecution of the northern papists, only had in view ‘the comfort of his weel-affected subjects,’ and was willing to make the papists suffer no more than was fairly necessary to maintain the reputation of his ecclesiastical policy. He must have strongly sympathised with the Catholic nobles, all of whom were his personal friends, and supporters of his government, nor could he have heard of even the sufferings of the middle-class gentry without some compunctious visitings. We find him in January 1630 venturing on a measure of lenient tendency. The Lord Gordon, eldest son of the Marquis of Huntly, had been, through the influence of the late king, brought up with Protestant leanings. To him King Charles thought of granting a commission for the execution of the laws against the excommunicated papists, no doubt calculating that he would use a humane discretion in the business. The Privy Council accordingly gave him such a commission, to last for four months, and to include the power of appropriating the rebels’ rents to his own use. We learn from Sir Robert Gordon, that Lord Gordon was unwilling to accept this commission, lest he should offend his father and prejudice his position as commander of the King of France’s Scots Guard. But he got over his scruples, and, as Sir Robert tells, performed his duty with a degree of ‘dexterity and moderation’ that gained him the approbation of all parties.

While Lord Gordon proceeded northward with this large commission, his father remained in restraint in Edinburgh, still under obligation to exhibit the rebels on his own property, if Lord Gordon should fail to do so; and his daughters rested there also, under ‘sequestration,’ that the ministers of the true gospel might have access to them and induce them to attend church.

Lord Gordon had scarcely been a fortnight in enjoyment of his commission, when he found occasion to petition the Privy Council regarding the escheats of the rebels. If they gave these men a third of their rents as a means of supporting them abroad, it would be a deduction so far from the remuneration held out to him. Was this just? They appear to have been sensible of the force of this appeal, for they immediately decreed that no such deduction should be made. Whether Lord Gordon actually meant to appropriate these rents wholly to himself, does not appear.

On the 1st of June, Lord Gordon came before the Council to report progress, and it appeared that he had really used some diligence. Mr Robert Bisset; Gordon of Tilliesoul; John Gordon at the Mill of Rathven; Gordon of Drumquhaill; Master Gordon, in Badenoch; Hugh Hill; John Spence and his spouse; John Gordon, in Troups-mill, and his spouse; and Alexander Gordon, had all ‘given obedience and reconciled themselves to the kirk;’ that is, had put a constraint upon their professions of belief, and conformed to what in their hearts they detested. Others as yet stood out in their ‘obstinate disobedience to the church ‘—namely, Robert Bisset’s spouse; Gordon of Cairnbarrow; Gordon of Letterfour; the goodwife of Cornmellat; Malcolm Laing; Adam Strachan; Angus M’Ewen; Gordon of Corrichie; Forbes of Blackton and his spouse; Robert Innes’s spouse; Con, at Knock-mill; Leslie, in Convach; the spouse of Thomas Menzies of Balgownie; and Alexander Irving, his wife, and brother. Gordon of Craig and his eldest son offered caution to retire from the country. Margaret Gordon was confined in Banff, and Menries of Balgownie was in exile.

Of nearly every one of the obdurate we have some account of what they afterwards did or suffered. Most of them appeared (July 20), and came under obligation either to conform before a certain day or straightway to leave the country. About the same time, Sir John Ogilvy of Craig, who had long been warded in Edinburgh Castle for his religion, and also Dr William Leslie, came under similar engagements. One of those who seemed least likely to succumb was John Gordon of Bountie. Living close to the gate of Viscount Melgum, the brother of Lord Gordon, he had been bold enough to allow a priest, Mr Robert Mortimer by name, to perform a mass before a large company in his house; and when two of the presbytery came to Lord Melgum’s house to remonstrate, and John was called in to speak for himself, be broke forth in outrageous reviling speeches, saying he would leave the country, but before he went he would take the lives of these two ministers. But even this hot-headed gentleman was brought low. He was induced to make a humble supplication to the Bishop of Aberdeen for reconciliation with the church; and on an ample declaration of his repentance, he was absolved from excommunication. It is lamentable to think of such a zealot being obliged, for the saving of his property and place in the country, to swear on his ‘great oath’ eternal allegiance to the Protestant Church, and, with a heart full of suppressed rage and indignation, sit down and eat and drink unworthily of the feast which symbolises the union of the heart to the religion of peace and love.

On the 27th of July, the Council received a petition from John Gordon of Craig, which, on account of its simple and touching expression, may be given entire. It ‘humbly sheweth that, for religion, order hath been given for banishing the petitioner’s son, his wife and children, and confining himself—in respect of his great age—in a town within Scotland [Cupar], which order they have all humbly obeyed, his son, wife, and poor children having forthwith abandoned the kingdom. A two part of the poor estate which he hath being allotted for his son and his family, and a third part for himself, he now findeth that by such a mean proportion he cannot be able to live, being both aged and sickly. His humble suit is, that he may have leave to depart the kingdom to live with his son, because by their estate undivided, they may all be more able to subsist than otherwise.’ It will probably surprise the reader, even after the preceding recital, to learn that the Council found the desire of the supplication ‘unreasonable,’ and ‘forder declare that the said John Gordon of Craig sall have no modification nor allowance of ane third part of his estate and living, except he remain within the kingdom and keep the bounds of his confinement.’

On the 7th of February 1630, it was found that, owing to Cupar being situated on a thoroughfare, old Craig was visited by a considerable number of persons ‘suspect in religion, with whom he has not only secret conference, but there is pregnant presumption that other practices are enterteined amang them in hurt and prejudice to the true religion.’ This being in contravention of the agreement made with Craig, that he should have conference only with the ministry and not with papists, he was ordered to be removed to the out-of-the-way burgh of Crail, and to be confined there and within a mile thereof.

After the popish gentlemen had been thus dealt with, there remained a considerable number of ladies who as yet had not been much troubled. But these gentlewomen were not to escape. On the 23d of December 1630, the Privy Council adverted to ‘Madden Wood, spouse to Leslie of Kincraigie; Jonet Wood, spouse to John Gordon of Bountie; Marjory Malcolm, spouse to Matthew Alexander, in Turriff; Barbara Garden, spouse to ; Gordon, spouse to Mr Robert Bisset of Lessendrum; Isobel Strachan, spouse to John Spence, in Brunstain; and , spouse to John Gordon at the Mill of Rathven, who are not only professed and avowed papists, and excommunicat by orders of the kirk for that cause, but with that they are denounced his majesty’s rebels and contemptuously lies at the horn unrelaxt.’ It was further alleged of these ladies, that they ‘are common resetters, hoorders, and enterteiners of Jesuits, and mess priests, and trafficking papists—hears mess of them, and otherwise lives aftir ane most scandalous and offensive manner.’ An order was issued that these women should appear personally with their husbands, ‘that order may be tane with them.’

As a specimen of the dealing of the authorities with the gentler and weaker sex :—On the 9th of September 1630, the Lords of Council received a petition from Elizabeth Garioch, setting forth her case as a sufferer for her ‘averseness and non-conformity to the religion presently professed.’ She was an old decrepit woman, past threescore and ten years, bedrid for the present, and not likely long to live. She had lain for months in the Tolbooth of Aberdeen, with ‘no earthly means to entertein herself but ane croft of sax bells sawing, and neither husband nor child to attend to the tuning and in-gathering thereof.’ The misery of her circumstances made her restraint, she said, the more grievous. Therefore she craved release from prison, professing, ‘for the eschewing of scandal, which her remaining in the country may breed or occasion,’ her willingness to give security that she should remove herself forth of the kingdom. The Lords mercifully remitted to the Bishop of Aberdeen to see to Elizabeth Garioch being liberated on her giving caution to the extent of a thousand merks for her self-banishment.


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