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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of Charles I. 1637 - 1649 Part B


1639, Nov 1
Owing to the confusions, the Court of Session did not sit down as usual for the winter session to-day; ‘but was vacant the haill winter session, to the great grief of the true creditor, and the pleasure of the debtor unwilling to pay his debt.’—Spal.

Nov 2
A base coin called Turners had been struck by the Earl of Stirling under royal licence, and were to him a source of considerable gain, at the expense of the rest of the community. On the day marginally noted, ‘King Charles’s turners stricken by the Earl of Stirling, was, by proclamation at the Cross of Edinburgh, cryit down frae twa pennies to ane penny; King James’s turners to pass for twa pennies, because they were no less worth; and the caird turners simpliciter discharged as false cunyie. But this proclamation was shortly recalled, because there was no other money passing to make change.’ April 1640.—’ You see before some order taken with the passing of turners, whereof some was appointit to pass for ane penny. Now they would give nothing, penny nor half-penny, for King Charles’s turners; but King James’s turners only should pass. Whereby all change and trade was taken away through want of current money, because thir slight turners was the only money almost passing through all Scotland.’—Spal.

Nov
John Dhu Ger, the Highland robber, came with twenty-four men to William Stewart’s house on Speyside, set out watches, and took up house there. From this post he sent armed emissaries here and there to raise money by practising on the terrors of the people. The people gave fair words, but privately were active in collecting men for an effectual resistance. ‘And John Dhu Ger, being informed of their gathering by his watches, shortly takes both the ferry-boats, and carries over his men to the Stannars, whilk is in the midst of the water of Spey, and keepit the ferry-boats close beside himself, so that there was no other boat near enough to follow them.’ The country people had then to commence firing at the robbers from the bank, exposing themselves of course to be fired at in return. At length, by a shot from the gun of one Alexander Anderson, John Dhu Ger fell dead, and his followers dispersed.—Spal.

The Viscountess Melgum, widow of the young nobleman who had been burnt in Frendraught Castle, lived for several years in Aboyne Castle on the Dee, a gentle, charitable, and devout life, being a strict Catholic. A certain Father Blackhall, who was her domestic chaplain or frere from July 1638 till her death in March 1642, has left a copious gossiping narrative of his career as a priest in Scotland, including much that is curious regarding the private life of the lady, as well as the state of the country in that agitated time. He tells us that he had an apartment to himself, where four dishes of meat, as well as wine and ale, were sent to him at every meal, till, remonstrating about the expensiveness of this practice to the lady, he was allowed by her to eat at her own table. It was customary, he says, for a domestic priest in those days to confine himself very much to his chamber; and if he but opened his window, ‘the people would run to get a sight of him as a monstrous thing.’ But he, going freely about, soon ceased to be an object of curiosity.

By permission of his lady—whom, by the by, he always calls by her inferior title of Lady Aboyne—he made professional tours through the country, to confess and communicate the Catholics scattered about, usually staying a night in each house, or convening the poorer sort in a tavern. He does not speak of any dangers or difficulties encountered in performing this duty. He tells us, however, of some considerable troubles he had in defending the widow lady’s castle from the armed bands of Highlanders and others who were continually going about the country in consequence of the Covenanting wars. If he is to be believed, he was as much his lady’s captain as her priest.

On one occasion, a party of the Clan Cameron, forty or fifty in number, vassals of the Huntly family, came into the court of Aboyne Castle, asking to see my lady, with the hope of obtaining money from her. Blackhall, finding there was no other man in the house besides a porter and himself; amused them with fair speeches till he obtained assistance, and then closing the gates against them, sent them out some food, as all that Lady Aboyne was willing to bestow upon them. They went away grumbling, and presently quartered themselves upon one of her ladyship’s tenants, named Finlay, who kept a tavern, compelled him to kill poultry and mutton for their supper; and next day, they plundered the house, and set out for another, the Mill of Bountie, which they seemed likely to treat in the same way. Blackhall hearing of their doings, mustered an armed party of sixteen, and set out to surprise the depredators. The dispositions he made shewed a good deal of sagacity, and were attended with the desired effect.

Marching in single file, after the Highland fashion, and in perfect silence, they had got near the house before the Cameron sentinel observed them. ‘Having discovered us, he did run to the house, and we after him, so near that he had not leisure to shut the gate of the court behind him. All the vantage that he had before us was to win the house, and shut that door behind him, which chanced well for both parties; for if we could have entered the house with him, we should have killed every one another, for we were in great fury to be revenged of them, and they could do no less than defend themselves, selling their lives at the dearest rate they could, as men in despair should do. They would have had a great advantage upon us, for they, being in a dark house, would have seen us well, and we, coming in from the snow, would have been blind for some length of time, in the which they might have done us great skaith, before we could have done them any, not seeing them. But God provided better for us.

‘How soon we were in the court, I said with a loud voice: "Every one to his post;" which was done in the twinkling of an eye. Then I went to the door, thinking to break it up with my foot: but it was a thick double door, and the lock very strong. Whilst I was at the door, one of them did come to bolt it, and I hearing him at it, did shoot a pistolet at him. He said afterwards that the balls did pass through the hair of his head; whether he said true or not, I know not. I did go from the door to the windows, and back again, still encouraging them, and praying them at the windows to hold their eyes still upon our enemies, and to kill such as would lay their hands to a weapon; and to these at the door to have their guns ever ready to discharge at such as would choose to come forth without my leave. And I still threatened to burn the house, and them all into it, if they would not render themselves at my discretion, which they were loath to do, until they saw the light of bits of straw, that I had kindled to throw upon the thatch of the house, although I did not intend to do it, nor burn our friends with our foes. But if Malcolm Dorward, and his wife and servants, and his son George forward, and John Cordoner, all whom the Highlanders had lying in bonds by them, had been out, I would have made no scruple to have burned the house and all the Highlanders within it, to give terror to others who would be so brutal as to oppress ladies who never wronged them.

‘They seeing the light of the burning straw coming in at the windows, and the keepers of the windows bidding them render themselves before they be burned, they called for quarters. I told them they should get no other quarters but my discretion, unto which, if they would submit themselves faithfully, they would find the better quarters; if not, be it at their hazard. Thereupon I bid their captain come and speak with me all alone, with his gun under his arm, disbended, and the stock foremost. Then I went to the door and bid the keepers thereof let out one man all alone, with his gun under his arm, and the stock foremost; but if any did press to follow him, that they should kill both him and them who pressed to follow him. He did come out as I ordained, and trembled as the leaf of a tree. I believe he thought we would kill him there. I did take his gun from him, and discharged it, and laid it down upon the earth by the side of the house. Then, after I had threatened him, and reproached their ingratitude, who durst trouble my lady or her tenants, who was and yet is the beat friend that their chief, Donald Cameron, hath in all the world. "For," said I, "he will tell you how I and another man of my lady’s went to him where he was hiding himself, with his cousin, Ewen Cameron, in my lady’s land, and brought them in croup to Aboyne, where they were kept secretly three weeks, until their enemies, the Covenanters, had left off the seeking of them; and you, unthankful beast as you are, have rendered a displeasure to my lady for her goodness toward you." He pretended ignorance of that courtesy that she had done to his chief.

"Be not afraid, sir," said I; "you shall find my discretion to you better than any quarters that you could have gotten by capitulation; for I shall impose nothing to you but that which you shall confess to be just." This encouraged him, for he was exceeding feared. Then I said: "Think you it is not just that you pay this poor man, Alexander Finlay, what you spent in his house, and render what you plundered from him?" He said: "It is very just," and paid him what he asked; to wit, four crowns in ready money; and promised to restore what other things they had plundered from him as soon as his companions, who had the things, were come out. All which he performed. "Is it not just," said I, "that you render to Malcolm forward, in whose house you are here, and to his son, George Dorward, and to their friend, John Cordoner, all whatsoever you have taken from them?" "It is just," said he; "and I shall not go out of his court in which I stand, until I have satisfied everybody." "Is it not just," said I, "that you promise and swear that you shall go out of the land pertaining to my lady peaceably, untroubling any of her tenants or servants any more; and that you promise and swear never to molest her tenants hereafter?" "It is just," said he; and did swear to perform all these things. When he had sworn by his part of Heaven to keep these articles, I made him swear by the soul of his father, that neither he, nor none whom he could hinder, should ever thereafter trouble or molest my lady, nor any of her tenants. Then I sent him into his company in the house to see if they would stand to all that he had promised and sworn. He said: "They have all sworn fidelity and obedience to me, and therefore they must stand to whatsoever I promise, and perform it." "Notwithstanding," said I, "send me them out as you did come—their guns under their arms, the stocks foremost; and send no more out but one at a time; and let no more out until he who is out return in again; and when you have all come out severally, and made the same oath which you have made, you shall have leave to take up all your guns, but upon your oaths that you shall not charge them again until you be out of the lands pertaining to my lady."

"They did all come out severally as I had commanded, and as they did come to me, I discharged their guns to the number of six or eight and forty, which made the tenants convene to us from the parties where the shots were heard; so that, before they had all come out, we were near as many as they, armed with swords, and targes, and guns. When they all had made their oaths to me, I ranked our people like two hedges, five paces distance from one another rank, and but one pace every man from another in that same rank, and turn[ed] the mouths of their guns and their faces one rank to another, so as the Highlanders might pass two and two together betwixt their ranks. They passed so from the door of the hall in which they were, to the place where their guns were lying all empty. They trembled passing, as if they had been in a fever quartan. I asked their captain, when they had taken up their guns, what way they would hold to go out of my lady’s land. He said, they desired to go to Birse. I said we would convoy them to the boat of Birse, a good mile from the place where we were. I did so, because I had promised never to come in my lady’s sight if I did not put them out of her lands; and therefore, to come in her house, I would see them pass over the water of Dye, out of her lands, which went to the water-side, and we stood by the water-side until the boat did take them over in three voyages; and when they were all over the water, we returned home. Alexander Davidson returned from Bountie how soon they began to march away. He told to my lady the event of our siege, who was very joyful that no blood was shed on either side.

‘Their captain and I going together to the water-side, [he] said to me: "Sir, you have been happy in surprising us, for if our watchman had advertised us before your entry into the court, but only so long as we might have taken our arms in our hands and gone to the court, we could have killed you all before you had come near us, we being covered from you, and you in an open field to us; or if we had but gone the first to the windows, we could have beaten you out of the court, or killed you all in it." "Good friend," said I, "you think you had to do with children; but know that I was a soldier before you could wipe your own nose, and could have ranged my men so by the side of the house wherein you was, that you should not have seen them through the windows, and in that posture kept the door so well that none of you should have come out unkilled, and so kept you within until the country had convened against you. I confess, if you had been masters of the court, and we in open fields, you might have done what you say; but we were not such fools as to lay ourselves wide open to you, being covered from us. If any house had been near us, we could have made a sconce of it to cover ourselves; if none were near us, we could retire in order, and you could not pursue us, unlaid yourselves as open to us as we were to you, and there we should have seen who did best."

‘In the parish of Birse, these same fellows did call away a prey of cattle, and killed some men who resisted them. Then they went to Craigyvar, and although he was esteemed the most active man in all the name of Forbes, they plundered his tenants, and carried away a prey of cattle, for all that he could do against them. And this I say, to shew that these Highlanders were active and stout fellows, and that, consequently, it was God, and not I with sixteen boys, that did put them out of the lands of that pious and devout lady, whom he did protect, and would not suffer to be oppressed. And to shew that it was he himself and none other, he made choice of weak and unfit instruments; to wit, a poor priest, who made no profession of arms, unless charity, as at this time, or his own just defence obliged him to it, and sixteen boys, who had never been at such play before, to whom he gave on this occasion both resolution and courage, and to me better conduct than could have proceeded from my simple spirit, without his particular inspiration; to whom I render, as I should, with unfeigned submission, all the glory of that action.’

Nov ?
The Marquis of Huntly being at this time resident in the Canongate, two of his daughters were married there ‘with great solemnities‘—Lady Anne, who was ‘ane precise puritan,’ to Lord Drummond; and Lady Henrietta, who was a Roman Catholic, to Lord Seton, son of the Earl of Wintoun. The ladies had each 40,000 merks, Scots money, as her fortune, their uncle the Earl of Argyle being cautioner for the payment, ‘for relief whereof he got the wadset of Lochaber and Badenoch.’—SpaI. Lady Jean, the third daughter, was married in the ensuing January to the Earl of Haddington, with 30,000 merks as her ‘tocher good.’

1640, Mar
In Aberdeenshire, there were ‘in this alt-seed time, great frosts and snaw, no ploughs going, and little seed sawing, so vehement was this storm. No peats could be had to burn, for ane lead [borse-burden] would have cost 13s. 4d. [1s. 1 1/3d. sterling], whilk would have been coft [bought] other years for 2s. [2d. sterling]. The brewsters left aff to brew for want of fire. The reason of this scarcity was, because the Covenanters, coming here in March 1639, causit the haill servants, who should have casten the peats for serving of both Aberdeen; flee out of the country for fear; and so not only was our peats dear, but, through the unseasonableness of the spring, the victual also became very dear.’ —Spal.

May 8
As the young Earl Marischal was returning from Aberdeen to his castle of Dunnottar, a quarrel arose amongst some of the large party of gentlemen convoying him; and in a fight between Forbes, the young Laird of Tolquhon, and Mr George Leslie, the former was wounded in the head. Leslie was returned in shackles to Aberdeen, along with an associate named Fraser, to be punished. At the command of the earl, who acted as general and governor of the district for the Covenanters, a stock or block with an axe beside it was raised at the market-cross, with a scaffold round about, and a fire; these being meant as preparations for cutting off Leslie’s hand. The hangman stood ready to do his office, when the young man was brought out, amidst the pitiful cries of the populace, who deemed the punishment a monstrous cruelty. The arm had been laid down on the block, and the axe was raised for the stroke, when, past the expectation of the beholders, the Master of Forbes suddenly approached and forbade the execution; ‘whereat the people mightily rejoiced.’ The general did this for satisfying of young Tolquhon, but was believed to have from the first designed to grant a pardon. Spal.

July
Eight hundred Covenanting troops, under the command of General Munro, marched from Aberdeen, to take rule in the estate of the Marquis of Huntly at Strathbogie, the marquis himself being now with the king in England. They carried six putters, or short pieces of ordnance. On approaching Stratbbogie, where there was no resistance, ‘they took horse, nolt, sheep, and kine, drove the bestial before them, slew and did eat at their pleasure. They brak up girnels wherever they came, to furnish themselves bread. Coming after this manner to Strathbogie, the first thing they entered to do was hewing down the pleasant planting about Strathbogie, to be huts for the soldiers to sleep in upon the night....Then they fell to and meddled with the meal girnels, whereof there was store within that place, took in the office-houses, began shortly to bake and brew, and make ready good cheer; and when they wanted, took in beef, mutton, hen, capon, and such-like, out of Glenfiddich and Anchindown, where the country people had transported their bestial, of purpose out of the way, from the bounds of Strathbogie. Always they wanted not good cheer for a little pains.’

Seeing the world run in this fashion, John Dhu Ger, the Highland rogue, broke loose also, and fell to plundering through-out the land of Moray. Munro, hearing that he had collected an immense spreath of cattle and sheep at Auchindown, sent Rittmaster Forbes with a small party to rescue the goods out of his hands; but John stood his ground, and defended his prey manfully. The Rittmaster retired with his party, and told Munro in excuse that he did not find it good riding-ground. Afterwards Munro made good his point, and took out of Auchindown John Dhu Ger’s plunder and other bestial, to the amount of ‘2500 head of horse, mares, nolt, and kine, with great number of sheep, and brought them to Strathbogie,’ where, it is said, ‘they were sold by the soldiers to the owners back again, for 13s. 4d. the sheep, and ane dollar the nolt,’ the horse remaining unsold.

The head men of the country, deprived of the presence of their chief, the marquis, were obliged to bow to the rule of General Munro. Some came in, and undertook to join the Covenanting army; others, who did not do so, submitted to large fines. ‘Neither work-horse nor saddle-horse was left about Strathbogie, but either the master was forced to buy his own horses, or let them go for the service of the army;’ all arms being likewise taken from them. ‘Baron, gentleman, herd, and hireman,’ all alike suffered. Amongst other spoil, Munro seized a great quantity of home-made cloth which he found bleaching about the country, hanging it over the lofty wails of Strathbogie Castle to dry—’pity to behold!’ At length, after oppressing the country for upwards of a month, this Covenanting party ‘flitted their camp,’ previously setting fire to their wooden lodges, and emptying out what was unspent from the girnels. ‘They left that country almost manless, moneyless, homeless, and armless.’ —Spal.

Aug 5
At the command of a committee of the General Assembly, some memorials of the ancient worship, hitherto surviving in Aberdeen, were removed. In Machar Kirk, they ‘ordained our blessed Lord Jesus Christ his arms to be hewen out of the front of the pulpit, and to take down the portrait of our blessed Virgin Mary, and her dear son baby Jesus in her arms, that had stood since the up-putting thereof, in curious work, under the sill-ring at the west end of the pend whereon the great steeple stands.... Besides, where there was ane crucifix set in glassen windows, this he [the Master of Forbes] caused pull out in honest men’s houses. He caused ane mason strike out Christ’s arms in hewen wark on ilk end of Bishop Gavin Dunbar’s tomb, and siclike chisel out the name of Jesus, drawn cypher-wise IHS. out of the timber wall on the fore-side of Machar aile, anent the consistory door. The crucifix on the Old Town cross dung down; the crucifix on the New Town cross closed up, being loath to break the stone; the crucifix on the west end of St Nicholas’ Kirk in New Aberdeen dung down, whilk was never troubled before.’—Spal.

Aug 30
This day, being Sunday, a dismal accident happened, of some consequence for its bearing on the interests of the Covenant, as it caused the destruction of a considerable number of gentlemen who were preparing to act in that cause. The Earl of Haddington was at this time stationed at Dunglass Castle, in Berwickshire, along with a number of other Covenanting chiefs, and a store of ammunition. On the day noted, the house was blown up by the explosion of the powder, which was placed in a vault underneath. There perished the earl himself; his brother Robert, and a bastard brother; Colonel Alexander Erskine, son of the Earl of Mar; Sir John Hamilton of Redhouse; Sir Gideon Baillie of Lochend; James Inglis of Ingliston; John Coupar of Gogar; Sir Alexander Hamilton of Innerwick; and some others, including about flfty-four servants, men and women; while thirty gentlemen, and others of inferior degree, were sore hurt, but not irrecoverably. It was thought that an English page, named Edward Paris, who was trusted by the earl with the key of the vault, set fire to the powder voluntarily, in consequence of pet; but accident is much more probable. ‘No part of him was ever found but ane arm, holding ane iron spoon in his hand.’

‘One thing wonderful happened, about eight of the clock, on the Thursday at night, before the blowing up of the house of Dunglass. There appeared a very great pillar of fire to arise from the northeast of Dunbar, as appeared to them in Fife who did behold it, and so ascended towards the south, until it approached the vertical point of our hemisphere, yielding light as the moon at her full, and by little evanishing until it became like a parallax, and so quite evanished about eleven of the clock in the night.’—Bal.

The Earl of Haddington, being only the second generation of a family raised by state employment and royal favour to extraordinary wealth, might have been expected to take no part against King Charles. It is stated that when the king heard of the accident, he remarked that ‘albeit Lord Haddington had been very ungrateful to him, yet he was sorry that he had not at his dying some time to repent.’

Amongst the killed was Colonel Alexander Erskine, a younger son of the late Earl of Mar. He was a handsome and gallant soldier, originally in the French service, and is noted as the lover whose faithlessness is bewailed in Lady Anne Bothwell’s Lament:

‘I wish I were within the bounds,
Where he lies smothered in his wounds,
Repeating, as he pants for air,
My name whom once he called his fair:
No woman‘s yet so fiercely set,
But she’ll forgive, though not forget.’

The orders for the discipline of the school at the kirk of Dundonald, in Ayrshire, in this year, have been preserved, and exhibit arrangements and rules surprisingly little different from what might now be found in a good Scotch parish school. There were to be prayers morning and evening, and a lesson each day on the Lord’s Prayer, Belief, Commands, Graces, or Catechism. Somewhat unexpectedly, we find it enjoined on the master, that he teach his scholars good manners, ‘how to carry themselves fashionably towards all . . . . the forms of courtesy to be used towards himself in the schule, their parents at hame, gentlemen, eldermen, and others of honest fashion, abroad.’ One arrangement seems of questionable tendency, and certainly has not taken root amongst us—.namely, ‘for the mair perfyte understanding of the children’s behaviour, there shall be a clandestine censor, of whom nane shall know but the master, that he may secretly acquaint the master with all things, and, according to the quality of the faults, the master shall inflict punishment, striking some on the lufe with a birk wand or pair of taws, others on the hips, as their faults deserve, but none at ony time or in ony case on the head or cheeks.’ The conclusion conveys an impression of good sense in the deviser of the rules. ‘Especially is the master to kythe [shew] his prudence in taking up the several inclinations of his scholars, and applying himself thereunto, commendations, allurements, fair words, drawing from vice and provoking to virtue, such as may be won thereby, and others by moderate severity, if that be fund maist convenient for their stubbornness. And let the wise master rather by a grave and an authoritative countenance repress insolence, and gain every one to his duty, than by strokes, yet not neglecting the rod when it is needful.’

Dec 28
At the command of the minister of the parish, accompanied by several gentlemen of the Covenanting party, the timber-screen of Elgin Cathedral, which had outlived the Reformation, was cast down. ‘On the west side was painted in excellent colours, illuminate with stars of bright gold, the crucifixion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This piece was so excellently done that the colours and stars never faded nor evanished, but keepit hale and sound, as they were at the beginning, notwithstanding this college or canonry kirk wanted the roof since the Reformation, and no hale window therein to save the same from storm, snow, sleet, nor weet; whilk myself saw..... On the other side of this wall, towards the east, was drawn the Day of Judgment.... it was said, this minister caused bring home to his house the timber thereof, and burn the same for serving his kitchen and other uses; but ilk night the fire went out wherein it was burnt, and could not be holden in to kindle the morning fire as use is; whereat the servants and others marvelled, and thereupon the minister left off any further to bring in or burn any more of that timber in his house. This was marked and spread through Elgin, and credibly reported to myself.’—Spal.

1641, June
The present was a sad time for the professors of the Catholic religion in Scotland. Spalding relates in feeling terms the unavoidable exile of the Dowager-marchioness of Huntly, a lady (daughter of Esme Duke of Lennox) who had been born and educated in France, and could not now, with one foot in the grave, alter her religion, while neither could her high rank and powerful connections avail to obtain for her toleration. ‘Thus, resolutely she settles her estate, rents, and living, and leaves with woe heart her stately building of the Bog, beautified with many yards, parks, and pleasures—closes up the yetts, and takes journey with about sixteen horse; and upon Saturday, the 26th of June, comes to Aberdeen, lodged in Mr Alexander Reid’s house; and upon Monday thereafter, she rides frae Aberdeen towards Edinburgh. A strange thing to see a worthy lady, near seventy years of age, put to such trouble and travail, being a widow, her eldest son the Lord Marquis being out of the kingdom, her bairns and oyes dispersed and spread—and, albeit nobly born, yet left helpless and comfortless, and so put at by the kirk, that she behoved to go or else to bide excommunication, and thereby lose her estate and living, whilk she was loath to do! She left her oye [grandson] Charles, son to the marquis, being but ane bairn, with Robert Gordon, bailie of the Enzie, to be entertained by him, when she came from the Bog; and she also sent another of his bairns, called Lady Mary, to Anna Countess of Perth, her own eldest sister, to remain with her.... She remains [in Edinburgh] till about the end of September, but help or remede, syne rides directly to Berwick, there to abide during her pleasure. It is said she had about 300,000 merks in gold and jewels with her, by and attour the gold and silver plate of both houses of Bog and Strathbogie; which did little good to the distressed estate of that noble house.’ - Spal. It is the more remarkable that the marchioness found no remedy in Edinburgh, as King Charles was there during her stay, and he, as her relative, and the friend of her loyal family, must have been disposed to interfere in her behalf, if in his power to do so. The marchioness died in France in the ensuing year.

When the highest rank could not procure the slightest toleration for a professor of the Romish faith, it was not to be expected that Catholics of mean estate should be unmolested. In April 1642, Peter Jop, sailor in Aberdeen, gave in a supplication to the Privy Council, representing his ‘miserable condition upon occasion of the imprisonment of Isobel Robertson, his spouse, ane excommunicat papist.’ The Lords wrote to the magistrates and ministers of Aberdeen, requesting Isobel’s ‘enlargement upon assurance of! conformity, or of removal out of the country;’ and accordingly she was allowed till the 15th of October to make up her mind about these alternatives. Now, in the month of July, Peter Jop represents that his wife is in a delicate condition, and will be undergoing confinement of another kind about the time assigned as her longest day. ‘The soonest she can be transported out of the country, if she do not conform, will be about the month of March ‘—so declares Peter; but he humbly assures the Lords that if they will so far extend the term assigned to her, she will then give obedience without further delay. The Lords were mercifully inclined, and allowed Isobel to remain unmolested till the last day of March.—P. C. R.

Aug
‘In this month, ane great death, both in burgh and land, of young bairns in the pox; so that nine or ten children would be buried in New Aberdeen in one day, and continued a long time. All for our sins, and yet not taken to heart.’ ‘There was reckoned buried in Aberdeen about twelve score bairns in this disease.’

Spalding, who notes these particulars, remarks that, since the beginning of the troubles, there had been no sea-mews seen in the lochs of New or Old Aberdeen, ‘who before flocked and decked in so great abundance, that it was pleasure to behold them flying above our heads, yea, and some made use of their eggs and birds. In like manner, few or no corbies seen in either Aberdeens at the water-side of Dee or Don, or shore, where they wont to flock abundantly for salmon gouries.’

He tells us that the 14th of September was kept as a solemn thanksgiving throughout Scotland, on account of the settlement between the king and Estates. ‘Here it is to be marked, that this day of thanksgiving was strictly kept, the weather being wonderful fair, and the poor country people rather wishing to have been at home winning their corns Which is more to be noted, this day of thanksgiving, being ane wonderful fair day, fit for harvest, whereon they are forced to sit idle; thereafter there was nothing but tempestuous rains till the 10th of October, whilk was again ane day of fast; whereby the people’s hearts were casten down, fearing the loss of their harvest through this wicked weather.’

Oct 28
At the meeting of the Estates this day, the king communicated intelligence of the outbreak in Ireland, but without as yet being able to state whether it was a small or a great revolt. It was not till Monday, the 1st of November, that he came to the house with the statement that it appeared to be a general rebellion, from which only Dublin was safe.’ He, on that occasion, urged the Estates to send an armament as soon as possible, to aid in maintaining order in that distracted country.

Mr Tytler of Woodhouselee had learned, through the medium of tradition, that the king was engaged in a match at golf; on Leith Links, when a letter was delivered into his hands, giving him the first intelligence of the Irish rebellion. ‘On reading which,’ adds Mr Tytler, ‘he suddenly called for his coach, and leaning on one of his attendants, and in great agitation, drove to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, from whence next day he set out for London.

This anecdote is certainly wrong in the last particular, as the king did not leave Edinburgh on his return to England till the 18th of November. The remainder of the anecdote may be true. Mr Tytler states that the king was fond of the game of golf. In Wodrow’s Analecta, the story is related with a wholly different cast, from two sources. It is here said that the king had been participant in hatching the Irish rebellion for his own ends, and, when the accounts of the massacre came, ‘he was playing at the gowf in the Links of Leith. When he opened the letters and had looked at them, he seemed not in the least concerned, but ruffled the letter up, and called to his company to play about.’

1641, Dec 25
The town-clerk of Aberdeen bewails the suppression of old kindly Christian customs at this time, as gentle Izaak Walton might have done, if it had been vouchsafed to him to exercise his rod upon the Dee. Whereas, in former times, Christmas or Yule-day had been observed with preachings, and praises, and thanksgiving, ‘in remembrance of the birth of our blessed Saviour,’ and friends and neighbours made merry with each other and had good cheer, ‘now this day,’ says Spalding, ‘no such preachings nor such meetings with merriness, walking up and down,’ in Aberdeen, but, on the contrair, it was ‘commanded to be keepit as ane work-day, ilk burgess to keep his booth, ilk craftsman his wark, feasting and idleset forbidden out of pulpits The people was otherwise inclined, but durst not disobey; yet little merchandise was sold, and as little work done on this day in either Aberdeens. The colliginers and other scholars keep the school against their wills.’

1642, Feb 16
Owing to the sending of forces from Scotland to put down the Irish rebellion, a considerable intercourse had sprung up between the two countries. The Privy Council accordingly found it necessary to establish postages betwixt Port-Patrick and Edinburgh, and betwixt Port-Patrick and Carlisle, for the conveyance of packets of letters. In this movement, England was more concerned than Scotland, and she therefore cordially agreed to bear all the expense that should be required. It is interesting to trace the first steps in a system now so important as the Post-office.

On a resolution being formed by the parliament of England and the Scottish commissioners, to establish a line of posts between Edinburgh and Port-Patrick, and Port-Patrick and Carlisle, the business of making the arrangements was confided to Robert Glencorse, merchant in Dumfries, under a duty of consulting ‘Mr Burlmakie, master of the letter-office.’ Robert was himself established postmaster betwix Annan and Dumfries, twelve mile; and Mark Loch, betwix Carlisle and Annan, twelve mile; Andrew M’Min betwix Dumfries and Steps of Orr, twelve mile; Ninian Mure betwix the Steps of Orr and Gatehouse of Fleet, twelve mile; and George Bell from thence to the Pethhouse, eleven mile; and John Baillie from thence to the Kirk of Glenluce, thirteen mile; and John M’Caig from that to the port, ten mile.' These persons were considered ‘the only ones fit for that employment, as being innkeepers and of approved honesty in these parts.’ The lords of the Privy Council were (September 27) supplicated to ratify the arrangements, and to ‘allow John M’Caig, postmaster in Port-Patrick, to have a post bark.’ The supplication was at once complied with.

Apr
At this time of general strife and trouble, when civil war was beginning to appear inevitable, a monster passed through the country for exhibition to the curious. It was an Italian of about twenty-four years of age, ‘having from his birth, growing from the breast upwards, face to face, as it were ane creature having a head and syde [long] hair, like the colour of the man’s hair; the head still drooping backward and downward. He had eyes, but closed, not opened. He had ears, two arms, two hands, three fingers on ilk hand, ane body, ane leg, ane foot with six taes; the other leg within the flesh, inclining to the left side. . . . It had a kind of life and feeling, but void of all other senses; fed by the man’s own nourishment... This great wark of God was admired of by many in Aberdeen and through the country, as he travelled; yet such was the goodness of God, that he would go and walk where he listed, carrying this birth without any pain, yea unespied when his clothes was on. When he came to the town, he had two servants waiting upon him, who with himself were well clad. He had his portraiture with the monster drawn, and hung out at his lodging to the view of the people. The one servant [was] ane trumpeter, who sounded at such time as the people should come to see this monster, who flocked abundantly into his lodging. The other servant received the monies frae ilk person for sight, some more, some less. And after there was so much collected as could be gotten, he, with his servants, shortly left the town and went south again.’—Spal.

It may somewhat stay our smiles at the simplicity of Spalding’s narration, that it was not till the present century that the true theory of such monsters was arrived at—to wit, that they are twin-births, in which, through some simple disturbing cause, development has been arrested or taken a wrong course.

There is an account of this remarkable person, illustrated by a portrait, in Palfyn’s Traite des Monstres, de leur Causes, de leur Nature, &c.. (Leyden, 1708). The author had first seen him at Copenhagen, and afterwards at Bale, while he was still a young man. He bore the name of Lazare Colloredon Genois, and the attached figure had been baptised separately under the name of Jean Baptiste. Lazare is described as a man of good stature and appearance and of agreeable manners. He wore a large cloak, to conceal the unsightly brother whom nature had attached to his breast. Usually he shewed a good deal of vivacity, but was now and then depressed in thinking of what should be his fate, if; as was likely, his brother should die before him. Jean Baptiste was a very imperfect being, nourished only by what Lazare ate; his eyes nearly closed, and his respiration scarcely perceptible.

Apr 10
As it had been with Christmas, so it now was with Pasch. According to Spalding, ‘no flesh durst be sold in Aberdeen for making good cheer, as wont was to be. So ilk honest man [Episcopalian] did the best he could for himself. A matter never before heard of in this land, that Pasch-day should be included within Lentron time, because it was now holden superstitious; nor nae communion given on Good Friday nor this Pasch-day, as was usit before. Marvellous in Aberdeen to see no market, fowl or flesh, to be sold on Pasch-even.’

June
Up to this time, from the beginning of the year, there was a scarcity of white fish along the east coast, ‘to the hurt and hunger of the poor . . . . and beggaring of the fishermen. It was reported that when the fishers had laid their lines and taken fishes abundantly, there came ane beast called the Sea Dog to the lines, and ate and destroyed the haill bodies, and left nothing on the lines but the heads. A judgment surely from God Almighty, for the like scarcity of fishes to continue so long has scarcely been seen here in Scotland; whilk bred great dearth of meal and malt, at aucht, nine, or ten pounds the boll, and all other meats also very dear.’ —. Spal.

The honest ton-clerk of Aberdeen probably by sea-dog means the well-known dog-fish, one of the cartilaginous family, which is a constant enemy of our fisheries at this day.

The same authority informs us that dearth continued throughout the ensuing winter. ‘White meal,’ he says, probably meaning flour, ‘was at eight pounds the boll.’ The people had been accustomed to dear summers—the stock of grain of the preceding year usually getting low at that season—but this was the first dear winter for many years. ‘There was also great rains, whereby none was able to travel; great storms in the sea, and few fish gotten, to the great grief of the people.’

In November, when the recent commencement of hostilities between the king and the English parliament must have been thrilling men’s minds in Scotland, Spalding notes, that ‘in ane seaman’s house in Peterhead, there was heard, upon the night, beating of drums, other times sounding of trumpets, playing on piffers, and ringing of bells, to the astonishment of the hearers. Troubles foilowit.’

Oct 18
The preservation of the strict rule of the church was at this time sought in the most earnest manner, no one dreaming of any such thing on the other side as the rights of conscience, or the danger of creating a reaction to contrary purposes. At a provincial assembly held in Aberdeen, there was much business regarding the few symptoms of Brownism or independency lately presented throughout the country. Gilbert Garden, younger of Tillifroskie, in the parish of Birse, was denounced by his parish minister for forsaking the kirk, and affecting to regard his private family devotions as sufficient. Being brought before the court, he confessed that such was his case, but defended himself; whereupon the minister was enjoined to excommunicate him if he proved obdurate. (About a twelvemonth after, young Tillifroskie was seized ‘upon the causey of Edinburgh,’ and put in the Tolbooth there, on account of his Brownism.) One Ferendale was afterwards proceeded with in the same sharp way, but was induced to deny the Brownist tenets in time to save himself. Another man, named Maxwell, ‘a silly wheel-wright of his calling,’ who had also been summoned for Brownism, deemed it most prudent to vanish from the town. After an ineffectual search for this important recusant the ministers out of their pulpits forbade all Men to ‘reset’ him. -Spal.

One of the means of keeping up the excitement necessary for sustaining the war against the king was to thunder constantly in the pulpits about the papists. The difficulty seems to have been to find a real live papist, to give some sort of countenance to these fulminations, for at this time, in the simple but expressive words of Spalding ‘none durst be seen.’ Now and then, a smart razzia brought out one or two cowed professors of the abhorred faith. A small clerical party, supported by a couple of bailies, went out of Aberdeen on the evening of Sunday the 16th of April (1643) ‘with caption to tak Alexander Hervie in Grandhame for popery, who was lying bedfast in the gut [gout], to have taken him as ane excommunicat papist; but they could not find him. His son they saw upon horseback, excommunicat likewise; but they had no commission against him.’ Two days later, the young Laird of Birkenbog seized a priest named Robertson in the house of Forbes of Blackton, and brought him to Aberdeen. Being soon after transported to Edinburgh, this priest was sent to West Flanders, with a hint that, if he reappeared in Scotland, he should be hanged.

On the 8th of October 1643, Thomas Blackhall and his wife, and the wife of one Collieson, were excommunicated as papists by Andrew Cant, minister of Aberdeen. ‘Strange to see,’ says Spalding, ‘the wife to be excommunicat, and the husband not to keep company with her!’

One of the saddest acts of discipline that proceeded from the dominant party at this time, was the banishment of Dr Forbes of Corse, who had been professor of divinity in Aberdeen under the Episcopal Church. Learned above his fellows, modest and peaceable even in his opposition, and protesting that he was sound in the controversies against papists, Socinians, and Arminians, he was, nevertheless, compelled to leave his country, April 1644, because he could not be induced to sign the Covenant. He had purchased a house for the professors of divinity, but neglected to reserve his own liferent; so he was obliged to leave it to his Covenanting successor, at the same time breaking up his library and selling a part of his books. ‘Surely,’ says Spalding, ‘this was ane excellent religious man, who feirit God, charitable to the poor, and ane singular scholar; yet he was put fra his calling, his country, his friends, and all, for not subscryving our Covenant, to the grudge and grief of the best.’

1643, Feb 1
The Aberdeen annalist tells a wild story of a complex murder which befell to-day. The young Laird of Calder was married to a daughter of the Laird of Cromarty, who, having no pleasure in him, prepared a potion for his destruction. Hutcheon Ross of Auchincloch and two other gentlemen, visiting the house this evening, ‘were made welcome, supped merrily, and were all three found dead in their beds on the morn,’ having through some mistake received the poison meant for young Calder, ‘who by his friends was hastily removed out of that place, and never more tried.’

Feb
Whilst the first battles of the Civil War were causing universal excitement, some further rumours of prodigies were circulated in the country. It was stated that a battle was seen at the hill of Manderlee, four miles from Banff; and so strongly did the vision impress itself on the beholders, that many ran to bury their valuables in the earth. At Bankafair and Drum, touking of drums was heard. Mr Andrew Leitch, minister of Ellon in Aberdeenshire, sitting at supper one night, ‘heard touking of drums vively, sometimes appearing near at hand, and sometimes far off. On the 7th of February, it was written here to Aberdeen, that Kentoun battle at Banbury,’ wherein his majesty was victorious, has in vision been seen seven sundry times sin-syne.’—Spal. On the 12th, about eight in the morning, being a misty day, ‘visions seen at the hill of Brimman, within four miles of Aberdeen. William Anderson, tenant in Crabstone, told me he saw ane great army as appeared to him, both of horse and foot, about eight hours in the morning, being misty, and visibly continued till sunrising; syne vanished away in his sight with noise, into ane moss hard beside. Likewise in the muir of Forfar, armies of men seen in the air. Whilk visions the people thought to be prodigious tokens, as it fell out over true.’—Spal.

The same minister of Ellon, happening to step out of his manse one night between twelve and one o’clock, ‘did see the sun to shine, as if it had been mid-day, and, much astonished at so fearful a prodigy, he called up his bedral to see it also; and, lest the truth hereof should not win belief, he caused the bedral to raise a number of the neighbours from their beds, all which did testify the same, when the preacher was questioned about it by the committee sitting at Aberdeen.’ Pa. Gordon. To make up for this unusual solar demonstration, the sun by day ‘was seen in divers parts to shine with a faint beam, yielding a dim and shadowy light even in a clear heaven, and sometime did shew like a deep and large pond or lake of blood.’

We learn from the same authority, that ‘at Rethine, in Buchan, there was about the time of morning-prayer for divers days together heard in a church a choir of music, both of voices, organs, and other instruments, and with such a ravishing sweetness, that they were transported, which in numbers resorted to hear it.... The preacher one day being much taken with the harmony, went, with divers of his parishioners into the church, to try if their eyes could bear witness to what their ears had heard; but they were no sooner entered when, lo! the music ceased with a long note or stroke of the viol di gambo; and the sound came from ane upper loft, where the people used to hear service, but they could see nothing.’

Gordon adds an account of a prodigious noise which was heard all over the kingdom at the moment when Master Macdonald landed with his Irish in the west of Scotland, to join Montrose in behalf of the king—that ‘warning piece shot from heaven as the last signal that should be given us of our near approaching punishment; this I am sure the whole kingdom can testify, since the report did ring in the ears of every man, woman, and child throughout the kingdom, as if it had been levelled at themselves, as well in the houses as the fields, not only in one day and one hour, but at one moment of time.’

When we read the history of two centuries ago, we little reflect on the mental condition and furniture of the principal actors, or the manner in which the public at large was prepared to receive and treat events. Yet it cannot be doubted that history must have in a great measure taken its bent and character from these circumstances. In reviewing the events of the Civil War, it is most essential to keep in view the style of religious convictions under which men acted, and even their superstitions.

The Diary of Sir Thomas Hope, the king’s advocate under Charles I., and a leader in all the proceedings of the Covenanters, shews us that Sir Thomas, in most affairs of difficulty, accepted the thoughts which occurred to his mind after prayer as a divine impulse to the right course of action. It reveals not merely the generally devout life of the man, his frequent prayers and communions, and his entire resignation to the divine will, but his being subject to superstitions at which a child would now smile. He has frequently such entries as the following: ‘June 24, 1643.— This night I thought that a tooth (whilk was loose) fell out of my gums, and that I took it up in my hands and kep it; and it seemed so real that while [till] I awakit, I thought it really true, and could scarcely believe it otherwise when I had awakit. Thir repeated dreams portends some calamity to me or mine; but I have resolved to submit myself to my good Lord, and to adore his providence; and the Lord give me grace to bear it patiently.’

‘June 25.—At night I dreamed that while I was pulling on my left buit, both the tongues of it brake. This fell out really on the 26 September thereafter.... God prepare me. The Lord prepare me, for I look certainly to suffering in such way as my Lord pleases.’ ‘April 8, 1644.—This night a dream occurrit, whilk carries some fear with it; but I wait on the Lord. It was, that the rod wherewith I walk was broken in pieces, and nothing left of it but the silver head.’


Apr
‘Horribly uncouth and unkindly weather at this time...marvellous to see in April! Fishes, fowls, and all other commodities scarce gettable in Aberdeen. White meal at nine pound the boll.’ Merchants, expecting still greater prices elsewhere, bought up and exported all the grain they could collect, ‘to the wreck of our country,’ and not without ‘the country people’s malison.’ Spalding, who relates these circumstances, tells us that this malison was ‘heard;’ for on the 29th of May, a ship loading with meal in the Ythan river in Aberdeen-shire, slipped a plank, so as to let in the salt water and destroy the cargo.


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