Additional Info

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Share

Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of Charles II.: 1660 - 1673 Part D


1668, May 7
John Gibson of Durie had a petition before the Privy Council regarding his niece Anna Gibson, daughter of the deceased Sir Alexander Gibson of Durie. His complaint was, that Anna had been unwarrantably carried away into the Highlands by certain persons unknown, but for no other imaginable purpose than to acquire an influence over her mind in the choice of curators. We learn through other channels that the young lady was an orphan, scarcely eleven years of age, and that she was living at Perth at the time of her abduction. Her deceased mother was Marjory Murray, a sister of the Viscount Stormont, and we are informed by Lamont, as part of the gossip of the day, that it was by this nobleman’s means that the young lady was carried off, his aim probably being to prevent her paternal relatives from acquiring an exclusive influence over her. The Council, on the supplication of John Gibson, issued warrants for a search after Anna Gibson, and the taking of her from the hands of any into whose power she had fallen; also threatening punishment for her detention, and decreeing a fine of £20,000 Scots to any man who should marry her.

We hear nothing more of this case till the ensuing 11th of February, when the Lord Chancellor acquainted the Council that Anna Gibson had been brought to his lodging that forenoon. She was ordered to be placed in the family of Mr Alexander Gibson, one of the clerks of the Council, ‘ay and while she shall make choice of her curators after her age of twelve years complete.’ Apparently, the relatives on both sides had afterwards come to an agreement about this young heiress, as Lamont tells us that, on the 28th of August 1669, ‘Mistris Anne Gibson, Dune’s niece, remaining at Dune for the time, did choose her curators; among whom were the Earl of Rothes the chancellor, Sir Andrew Murray, and the Tutor of Stormont, her uncles on the mother’s side; Dune and his brother George Gibson, her uncles on the father’s side, &c. They dined that day at David Johnston, in Cupar, his house.’

Mrs Anna Gibson afterwards became the wife of John Murray of Touchadam and Polmaise. It is worthy of observation that she was the great-granddaughter of Lord Dune who was kidnapped by George Meldrum of Dumbreck; see under September 1601.

May 22
The town of Kilmarnock was wholly destroyed by an accidental fire, ‘wherethrough about sexscore families are set to the fields destitute both of goods and houses ‘—indeed, ‘in a condition of starving.’ Matters were the worse for them, by reason that they, ‘being all poor tradesmen, and having no other means of livelihood but their daily employment,’ had some time before been reduced to ‘great misery and affliction,’ in consequence of the quartering upon them of a great party of the king’s forces, when these were sent to the west to prevent a rebellion. Under the sanction of the Privy Council, a collection was made at the parish churches for the succour of these poor people.

The event is chiefly worthy of notice as marking the smallness of Kilmarnock in those days, when as yet there was no such thing as manufacturing industry in the country. A hundred and twenty families speaks to a population of between five and six hundred: in 1851, this industrious town contained 21,443 inhabitants within the parliamentary boundaries.

In April 1669, a fire broke out at midnight in the town of Cupar (Fife), and spread so fast and with such violence, that ‘above the number of twenty considerable families being asleep in bed, did, unclothed with their apparel, with great difficulty escape their dwelling-houses,’ which were consumed with their entire contents. Thus, not only were these people, with their many young children, ‘ruined and reduced to begging,’ but ‘a great part of that ancient burgh, being the head burgh of the shire, [was] annihilat and turned to desolation.’ On a petition, the Privy Council ordered a charitable collection in Fife and the adjacent counties ‘for the relief of the poor indigent families of the said ancient burgh.’

July 3
Cases of outrageous personal violence, so common in the reign of James
VI., and even in the ensuing reign, continued to be now and then heard of. The Privy Council Record, under this date, adverts to one of a typical character, referring to a remote province, where early forms and fashions of society still obtained. It appears that Marion Peebles, ‘Lady Cardiness,’ widow of the late Gordon of Cardiness, was an aged and infirm lady living in the house of Bussabiel in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright.’ She was liferented in her husband’s lands; and her two sons, William and Alexander Gordon, resided with her; but the heir of the property was a grandchild in infancy. The allegation of William and Alexander Gordon was, that Sir Alexander M’Culloch of Myreton had formed a design to possess himself of Cardiness, for which purpose ‘he did buy several pleas, debts, comprisings, and factories of the estate, and used all means to get himself intruded thereinto.’ For a series of years, he did his best to harass the Gordons and their tenantry out of their rights and possessions; and at length, on the 19th of August 1664, he came with a party, consisting of his sons Godfrey and John; Harry M’Culloch, younger of Barholm; William M’Culloch, younger of Locharduae; John M’Culloch of Auchleoch; Alexander Fergusson of Kilkerran; and sundry other persons, attended by their servants, all armed with swords and pistols, to Bussabiel, where they broke up the house, and attacked the lady in her bed. They beat her till she fell in a swoon, then broke down the roof of the house upon her head; and afterwards, finding her son William, they also ‘wounded him dangerously in the arm and hand, to the hazard of his life, not permitting his servants to give him drink or go for a chirurgeon to dress his wounds, or administer any kind of help or comfort to him for a long time.’ Through their violent treatment, he was ‘forced, to forsake the country, his infirm mother, and business.’

On a subsequent occasion (October 1665), the same persons came again to Bussabiel, and committed a fresh assault on Lady Cardiness, ‘striking her with her own stilt till she fell a-sound among their hands.’ Yet a third time did they come in March 1666, and with still more fearful violence. They ‘brake down the doors, and put forth all the servants, and pulled down the bed about Marion her head, and in ane most inhuman manner dragged her forth thereof. She not being able to go of herself by reason of her weakness, they carried her forth of the yett to the croft,’ letting her head fall against a stone by the way; then leaving her insensible, they proceeded to demolish and destroy all that was of any value in the house. The wretched lady was carried by some of her tenants into a barn, where she remained for the night. Two months afterwards, they beset her house with a guard, to prevent her from receiving any succour from friends or servants; and a woman detected taking in something to her mistress by a back-window, was beaten cruelly. Then entering the house, ‘they did keep her from sleep as weel as meat, and further did throw down water and other liquid matters upon her, so that she was forced to retire and shelter herself within the bounds of the kitchen chimney for her safety.’ In consequence of these ‘inhuman acts, and keeping of all her rents, corns, goods, and geir, whereupon she should have lived, from her,’ she was reduced to such a state of wretchedness, that ‘she within a short time thereafter did burst forth her heart’s blood and died.’

There were sundry deadly assaults upon the two sons, and some attach of a destructive nature upon their house, all betokening a savage violence on the part of M’Culloch and his friends.

There is some difficulty as to the decision of the Council. They first appear as condemning the accused parties to fine and imprisonment; then next day give an opposite verdict; yet after all, in April next year, we hear of Godfrey M’Culloch and Fergusson of Kilkerran as still under threat of punishment on account of their offence.

July 11
‘Saturday, in the evening, as the Archbishop of St Andrews and Bishop of Orkney were going abroad, the archbishop being in his coach, and the other stepping in, a wicked fellow standing behind the coach did shoot the Bishop of Orkney beneath his right hand; which broke his left arm a little above the wrist with five balls.’ So wrote the Privy Council to the king.—P. C. R. The assassin was a preacher named James Mitchell, ‘a weak scholar,’ according to Kirkton, but whom Wodrow describes as ‘a youth of much zeal and piety.’ We may charitably presume that he was a weak man infuriated by the sufferings of his party. His design was to slay the archbishop, who had become more and more odious to the malcontent Presbyteriant ‘After the shot, he crosses the street quietly, till he came near Niddry’s Wynd head, and there a man offered to stop him, upon which he presents the other loaden pistol, and so the pursuer leaves him. He stepped down the Wynd, and turning up Steven Law’s Close, entered a house, and shifting his clothes, passed confidently to the street. The cry arose, A man was killed. The people’s answer was, It was but a bishop; and so there was no more noise.’—Kir.

The government made much noise about this attempt, but failed to discover the murderer; nor was he discovered till six years after, when Sharpe himself recognised and had him arrested. Gilbert Burnett says: ‘I lived then much out of the world; yet I thought it decent to go and congratulate on this occasion. He [Sharpe] was much touched with it, and put on a show of devotion. He said with a very serious look: "My times are wholly in Thy hand, O thou God of my life!" This was the single expression savouring of piety that ever fell from him in all the conversation that passed between him and me.’

John Geddie, sheriff-clerk of Fife, residing at Falkland—a prosperous sort of person, who had gathered some substance while acting as clerk to the committee of war during the king’s residence in Scotland, 1650—1—attracted attention at this time by a novel plan for the management of bees. He constructed a bee-house, of wainscot, with eight sides, about sixteen inches in height, and twenty-three inches in diameter; containing various divisions, designed to allow of the swarming of the industrious insects, and save the necessity of destroying any in order to obtain the result of their labours. In an age when men seem to have had no extra occupation but that of wrangling about abstract matters in which they could never hope to convince each other, it is pleasant to light upon even so simple an exercise of ingenuity and economic wisdom as the bee-house of John Geddie. The inventor succeeded in obtaining for his plan the approving notice of the Royal Society. The king, too, was induced to have a bee-house of Geddie’s construction erected at Spring Gardens, near Whitehall, and another at Windsor Castle, ‘where, for several years, his majesty did come to the places himself; and with delight behold them, and saw the honey in its season taken forth without troubling the bees, to his great satisfaction.’ His majesty likewise ‘willed and commanded another to be erected in his park of Falkland, in the ancient kingdom of Scotland, for the good and benefit of his whole subjects, rich and poor therein, in order to • stir up noblemen and gentlemen to follow his example.’ That this might be duly effected, the king granted to Geddie twenty acres of marsh-land in the east end of the park of Falkland, ‘to be enclosed, trenched, and planted with such herbs, trees, &c., as is most suitable and convenient for the maintenance and food of an apifacture; and ordered a convenient house to be built therein for that purpose, and did ordain the treasurer and receivers of his majesty’s revenues to pay John Geddie the sum of £200 sterling for building and accomplishing the said apifacture.’ In April 1673, a patent was conferred on Geddie for his invention, for fourteen years. In 1679, the king further granted him power to buy the island of Inchkeith, probably with a view to its being employed in apiculture. But owing to troubles on account of oaths—John being a Presbyterian—it does not appear that he greatly benefited by the royal favour. He published a small treatise on the subject, of which a third edition appeared in 1697.—Abtotsford Misc.

A pleasant year as to weather, and a great crop—nothing better in either respect these sixty years past .—Lara.

In October occurred a violent storm, which produced great damage at Dundee, both in the structure of the harbour and by loss of ships. An act of parliament was passed to encourage a voluntary contribution to repair these disasters.

1669, June 4
One Mungo Murray was tried before the Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh, on a charge of having, on the 8th day of May preceding, committed an assault on Thomas Sydserf. The affair is only worthy of noting because it brings out the fact that there was at this time a theatre in the Canongate. Thomas Sydscrf is the same person whom we have seen engaged in editing the Mercurius Caledonius. He had since turned his mind to dramatic literature, and written a play called Tango’s Wiles, which was acted with applause at the Duke of York’s Theatre in 1668, and on which the Earl of Dorset had written complimentary verses— representing Phoebus as saying to Scotland, with reference to such Scotsmen as Sydserf:

‘On thee I will bestow my longest days,
And crown thy sons with everlasting bays.
My beams that reach thee shall employ their powers
To ripen souls of men, not fruits and flowers,
Let warmer climes my fading favours boast,
Poets and
stars shine brightest in the frost’

Sydserf was now conducting a theatre in the Canongate, depending in all probability upon the yet unfaded spirit of cavalierism evoked at the Restoration, for a slender support which it was not in the nature of Scotland to give at ordinary times to such an establishment. It appeared that Mungo Murray broke into Sydserf’s theatre in time of rehearsal, and attacked him with his drawn sword, but was overpowered before he could inflict any hurt. He was found guilty, and sentenced to ask Sydserf’d pardon, and abstain from molesting him in future under pain of banishment from the city.

June 16
For several years after the Restoration, a very frequent entry in the record of the Privy Council is an application from a Scotsman of good family, resident abroad for a borbrieff [birth. letter], or certificate of his lineage and family connections, to be drawn up and transmitted to him, that he might be enabled to appear in a proper light before the strangers amongst whom he lived. At the date noted, there is an application of this kind from a lady! ‘Maria Margaret Urrie, eldest lawful daughter of the deceased Sir John Urrie of that Ilk, being abroad in a strange country, where her birth and pedigree is not known, to the prejudice of her fortune in those parts,’ had ‘purchased a certificate of her pedigree under the hands of the Earl of Panmure and several other noblemen and gentlemen of quality;’ and she now petitioned for ‘a borbrieff in her favours, conform to the said certificate.’—P. C. R. The requisite warrant for the Chancery was at once granted. We soon after (29th September 1670) hear of an application of the same nature from a lady of greater note, Elizabeth, Countess of Grammont, who states that she bad obtained the needful ‘certificate of her descent and pedigree under the hand of the Earl of Lauderdale, his majesty’s High Commissioner; the Lord Duke of Hamilton, the Marquis of Douglas, the Earls Marischal, Argyle, and divers other noblemen.’ She was a descendant of the Abercorn family. Her brother’s Memoirs of her husband, have made the world generally acquainted with this elegant woman.

Among applications for borbrieffs was one in June 1670, from ‘Thomas Kirkpatrick, secretary to the king of France and Counciflor Lord Duplosse in Dunua, in France, son lawful of Thomas Kirkpatrick, a Scotsman and sometime one of the twenty-five Scots gentlemen soldiers of the life-guard of the king of France.’ Another, in 1686, was from the celebrated Colbert, minister of Louis XIV. of France, in whose behalf an act of parliament was passed, authorising the required document. It stated the descent of the Sieur Colbert, Marquis of Seignelay, at seven removes from Edward Culbert, a son of Culbert or Cuthbert of Castlehill, near Inverness, a family of king’s barons who often represented their county in parliament, and whose connections spread through the best branches of the peerage.—S. Acts.

Aug 24
The marriage-day of the unfortunate Bride of Baldoon. The story of this lady has been related with all the graces of fiction in the tale of the Bride of Lammermuir; but in its actual circumstances it is sufficiently impressive. She was the Honourable Janet Dalrymple, daughter of the first Lord Stair, so distinguished as a lawyer and by the part he took in the polities of his day.

While still in girlish years, the young lady contracted a passionate attachment to Lord Rutherford, the distant relative and heir of that noble champion, Andrew Rutherford, Earl of Teviot, who is alluded to so respectfully in this chronicle under 1663. The young nobleman returned this affection, and the pair plighted their troth in the usual manner, by parting a coin between them, and imprecating dismal evils upon whoever should withdraw from or violate the compact. But this alliance did not suit the views of the parents, whether from deficient fortune in the young lord, or from contrarious polities, does not appear. They favoured a new suitor who appeared in the person of David Dunbar, younger of Baldoon in Wigtonshire.

On learning that Dunbar was advancing in his suit, Lord Rutherford wrote to his mistress to remind her of her engagement, but received an answer from her mother, to the effect that she was now sensible of the error she had committed in entering into an engagement unsanctioned by the parental authority; and this engagement it was not her intention to fulfil. The lover refused to take an answer which did not come directly from his mistress, and insisted on an interview. It took place, but in presence of the mother, a woman whom public report represented as master of her husband and whole family, and indebted for this influence to witchcraft, though for no reason that can be discerned beyond her uncommon talents and force of character. It may readily be supposed that even the resources of love would be of poor avail against the skill and resolution of such a person. When Rutherford was introduced, he found her ready to meet his arguments with what was then an unanswerable defence, a text of Scripture (Numbers xxx., 2, 3, 4, 5), clearly absolving a woman from a bond entered into in her youth, if her father shall disallow her fulfilment of it, and promising that, in that case, ‘the Lord shall forgive her.’ The poor girl herself sat mute and overwhelmed, while the lover vainly pleaded against the application of this text; and the scene ended with her surrender of her portion of the broken coin, and his flying distracted from the house, after telling her that she would be a world’s wonder from what she had done and was yet to do.

The union with young Baldoon went on, but entirely under the management of the mother, for it is inconceivable that the young man could have pressed his suit, if he had known the extent to which the bride was under constraint. The wedding was celebrated, as was customary in those days, in the presence of the relatives of both parties, and with great festivity; but the bride remained like one lost in a reverie, and who only moves and acts mechanically. A younger brother lived long enough to state to a lady who communicated the fact to Sir Walter Scott, that he had the duty of carrying her on horseback behind him to church, and he remembered that the hand with which she clasped his waist was ‘cold and damp as marble.’ ‘Pull of his new dress, and the part he acted in the procession, the circumstance, which he long afterwards remembered with bitter sorrow and compunction, made no impression on him at the time.’

In the evening, the newly wedded pair retired to their chamber, while the merry-making still proceeded in the hall. The room had been locked, and the key taken possession of by the brideman, to prevent any. of the unseemly frolics which, it would seem, were sometimes played off on such occasions. But, suddenly there was heard to proceed from the bridal-chamber a loud and piercing outcry, followed by dismal groans. On its being opened, the alarmed company found the bridegroom weltering in his blood on the threshold, and the bride cowering in a corner of the chimney, with no covering but her shift, and that dabbled in gore. She told them ‘to take up their bonny bridegroom.’ It was evident she was insane, and the general belief was that she had franticly stabbed her husband. From that moment, she made no other rational communications, but pined away and died in less than three weeks. Young Baldoon recovered, but would never enter into explanations regarding the tragic occurrence. Perhaps it is this mystery alone which has given rise to the favourite belief of the many descendants of Lord Stair, that the wound was not inflicted by their unhappy relative, but by Lord Rutherford, who, they say, secreted himself in the chamber beforehand, and escaped afterwards by a window. This notion seems to us contrary to all probability, not merely because the conception of such an act was too gross for a man of rank even in that day, but because, had it been acted on, something must have come of it, either in the way of private revenge or of procedure before a criminal court. The idea was prevalent at the time; but it may be classed, we think, with another recorded by the credulous Law, that the poor bride was taken from her bed and harled through the house by spirits.

David Dunbar is described in an elegy by Mr Andro Simpson, as a most respectable country gentleman, an agricultural improver, and yet of studious habits. He died by a fall from his horse while riding between Leith and Edinburgh in 1682, and was interred in Holyrood Chapel. Andrew Lord Rutherford is stated in the Peerage to have died childless in 1685.

Aug 24
An old man named George Wood, who died this day at the Grange above Elie in Fife, was interred at K.ilconquhar in the evening of the next day, ‘his funerals being hastened for fear of arresting his corpse by his creditors.’—Lam.

This sufficiently shews that creditors were supposed in Scotland to have such a power by the law. In June 1677, it became a debate among the advocates in the Court of Session, whether a dead body could be arrested and stopped from interment on account of debt. What raised the question was the death of the Countess of Wemyss, and the clamour made by her numerous creditors among the merchants of Edinburgh, who feared that her husband, from whom she had been separated, would not own her obligations beyond her annuity of 6000 merks, all of which was already ‘fornailed.’ They talked seriously of arresting her ladyship’s body. Lord Fountainhall says that, though it is a custom in Holland and some other places, it is reprobated amongst us as a barbarity, and could in no way be done, except on an express supplication to the Lords of Session, or the Privy Council, ‘which would never be granted.'

[The editor of Lament’s diary gives the following note on George Wood’s funeral: ‘The revolting practice of attaching the corpse of a debtor seems from this entry to have been known in Scotland, even at this late period; while there does not appear to have been any legal authority for its adoption. The ‘notion of its legality, however, still prevails among the vulgar in England; and although the late Lord Ellenborough held it to be contrary to the law of England, it was observed by the unfeeling creditors of Weivitzer the actor, and of the celebrated Richard Brinsley Sheridan. How absurd soever this notion may seem, a still more glaring error is known in the north of Scotland. It is there believed by the common people, that a widow is relieved of her husband’s debts, if she follow his corpse to the door, and, in the presence of the assembled mourners, openly call upon him to return and pay his debts, as she is unable! Strange and unfeeling as this ceremony may be, the editor recollects an instance in which it was practised by the widow of a man in —society.’]

Nov
Robert Donaldson, of Birdstown in Campsie, being in Edinburgh on business, fell into the company of one Thomas Scott, an English borderer, who travelled in the equipage of a gentleman. Scott, learning that Donaldson possessed money, pretended an errand to Glasgow, and so accompanied him on his way home. The two dined at Falkirk together, and then set forward, Donaldson inviting Scott to spend the night with him at his house. Just as they were turned off the main road into that leading to Donaldson’s house, Scott gave his travelling companion a stab in the neck with his rapier, and thrust him to the ground, where he cut his throat. Donaldson was, it seems, a strong man, and might have defended himself, if he had not been taken by surprise and encumbered with his cloak, which was buttoned down and heavy with rain. Scott carried off the horse and money of his victim.

Donaldson’s servants went in search of the murderer, and had gone many miles in his track when they came up to a carrier wearing their master’s hood. Immediately the man was interrogated, and told that he had got the hood from a person now riding on in advance, near Haddington. They soon came up with the said rider, and laid hands on him. He being struck with a panic fear, confessed his guilt, for which he was soon after hanged in Edinburgh.—Law.

After an interval of a few years, during which no witch-cases ‘appear on the Privy Council Record, we find a considerable number in the autumn of this year, some at Aberdeen, some at Fogo in Berwickshire, some at Castle Tirrim in Inverness-shire. On the 11th of November, the Council issued a commission for the trial of Grizzel Jaffray, spouse of James Bntchard, maltman, now prisoner in the Tolbooth of Dundee, on suspicion of ‘the horrid crime of witchcraft.’ The gentlemen of the commission were empowered to put her to the knowledge of an assize, ‘and if, by her own confession without any sort of torture or other indirect means used, it shall be found she hath renounced her baptism, entered into paction with the devil, or otherwise that malefices be legally proven against her, that then and no otherwise they cause the sentence of death to be execute upon her.’ It is believed that, notwithstanding these enlightened orders, Grizzel suffered incremation.

Tradition connects an affecting anecdote with the case of Grizzel Jaffray. It is stated that her only son, having been long absent at sea, returned in command of his vessel to Dundee, and entered the port at the very time that the execution of his mother was proceeding in the Sea-gate. On hearing the cause of the unusual bustle seen in the town, he set sail again, and was never more seen in Dundee.

On the 6th of January 1670, we find the Privy Council engaged in a new kind of proceeding regarding witchcraft. A woman called Mary M’Donald, ‘being maliciously pursued by the captain of Clanranald and M’Donald of Morar for the alleged crime of witchcraft,’ came before the Council for protection, being ‘in fear to be apprehended by the said persons,’ notwithstanding her having given caution to appear and underlie the law in June next. The desired protection was given.

Amidst the incessant religious troubles of the period, there were some symptoms of a disposition to mercantile enterprise. At the suggestion of sundry ‘expert merchants,’ a Society for Fishing was formed, with the design of prosecuting that employment around the coast, where it was notorious that the Dutch were driving a profitable trade. One of the considerations that weighed with the enterprisers was, that there were many poor people who would work cheaper than the Dutch, ‘and by this the country would get vent for their meal and beasts, which gave no price.’ No one was admitted who did not subscribe at least traded that way,’ and ‘did occasion great grumbling among the £100 sterling. The king subscribed £5000, and ‘obliged himself that all materials should be freed from custom and excise. Yet many gentlemen refused to enter, fearing that the merchants, who behoved to manage all, would cheat the other partners; and many merchants refused to enter a society where so many noblemen were engaged, by whom they were afraid to be overawed. Yet the stock did soon increase to £25,000 sterling."

Every mercantile design in that age was clogged by the spirit of monopoly. If a man proposed to set up a stage-coach, there must be no other stage-coaches but his upon the road. If a company designed to introduce the manufacture of glass, or soap, or any other article, they must have the exclusive right of making the article for a generation. The Royal Company, as it was called, began as usual by securing monopolies. ‘No others might import or export salt or fish, for certain months of the year but only of that company.’ This ‘impoverished many families which traded that way,' and did occasion great gambling among the people.’ - Law.

In 1677, the Royal Company passed an ordinance for strictly enforcing their exclusive right to fish around the Scottish shores, demanding that any other party fishing should take out a licence from them. They themselves being bound only to fish for the service of the country, and not to send any fish abroad, by this restriction, says Fountainhall, ‘many in Glasgow, Dunbar, &c., will be great losers, who, by the export of fish on their own private adventures, brought in above 400,000 merks yearly.’ ‘The remedy,’ he adds, ‘will be to enter into the said company; only, they would be abler with £50 sterling alone to manage the said trade, than with £200 given in there.’

We have here a curious complication of errors in political economy—Private enterprise and fair competition checked, and foreign trade forbidden. One would think that the most ingenious contrivances of an enemy could scarcely have devised a state of things more harassingly detrimental to a country; and the wonder is that even selfishness should have been so blind as not to see that the free industry of all was calculated to give better results.

There is so much in the religious troubles of this period to attract attention, that history takes little note of anything else. Yet there was also a complete suite of chronic evils arising from the little advancement made in the arts and economy of life. The king appropriated an exclusive right to make salt, though only to hand it over to a courtier; the salt was consequently bad and dear. In some districts—as Galloway, the west, and the Highlands—to which the native article could not be carried, salt was wholly wanting, and the people used salt-water instead, ‘by which many of them died as of a plague; others being forced to buy at intolerable rates, as sixteen shillings the boll, though they formerly had it for four.’ Another statesman, married to a niece of Lauderdale, had a control over the importation of brandy, and managed to make that liquor to some extent supersede both native ‘strong waters’ and Spanish wines. A third, Sir John Nicolson, was allowed to put a tax on tobacco. He was grandson of Sir William Dick, and it was thought by this means to repay in some measure the public debt incurred to that famous merchant in the time of the Civil War. Moralists of a loyal type tried to make out that it was well to check the use of ‘an unnecessary and expensive drug;’ but ‘custom had made tobacco as necessary as nature had made meat and drink, and consequently this imposition was as grievous as if bread or ale had been burdened.' Add to these vexing imposts a coin debased for the profit of the mint-master—a brother of Lauderdale—and it will be seen that the evils of Scotland during this reign were not wholly of a sentimental nature.

1670, Apr 11
Major Weir was strangled at a stake and burnt in Edinburgh, for a series of sexual offences of the most abominable kinds. His sister, Jean Weir, who was involved in her brother’s guilt, suffered next day the less severe penalty of hanging. These were old people, and hitherto of good character. The major, indeed, was a religious professor of the highest style of sanctity, making unusual pretensions to strictness in piety, and noted for his power in prayer. He seems to have been a singular example of a paradox in human nature far from uncommon, and which may well make us all humble—an exalted strain of moral sentiment, refining overmuch, in coexistence with secret and inexpressibly degrading propensities. The poor man seems to have been at length unable any longer to endure the sense of secret guilt and hypocrisy; be sent to the public authorities to come and take him up. Unable to believe in the turpitude of one externally so well reputed, they sent physicians of his own religious party to see if he were not speaking from a disordered mind; and it was only when these reported him perfectly sane and collected, that he was taken into custody. It appeared that he had been addicted to his loathsome offences for a long course of years. The major was condemned upon his own confession, and thenceforth remained stupid and inaccessible to all that was said to him. He would not hear any minister pray to or for him, telling them, when they offered, that it was in vain—’ his condemnation was sealed; and since he was to go to the devil, he did not wish to auger him!
‘—Law.

Jean Weir confessed, besides, to intercourse with evil spirits. The devil had supplied her with lint to her wheel, and when she lived at Dalkeith, she had had a familiar, ‘who used to spin extraordinary quantities of yarn for her in a shorter time than three or four women could have done the same.’ That this wretched old woman was under the influence of hallucinations, there can be no doubt. When she and her brother were apprehended, ‘she desired the guards to keep him from laying hold of a certain staff, which, she said, if he chanced to get into his hands, he would certainly drive them out of doors, notwithstanding all the resistance they could make. This magical staff was all of one piece of thornwood, with a crooked head; she said he received it of the devil, and did many wonderful things with it. . . . It was ordered by the judges to be burnt with his body.’

July 29
Lord Rutherford, whom we have seen so recently figuring in the romantic affair of the
Bride of Baldoon, was now engaged in one of a very different kind—prosecuting a Captain Rutherford for the improbation of certain documents believed to have been forged by him, in order to establish claims on the estate of his lordship’s late brother, the second lord. The captain, after lying a long time in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, was sent for by the Lords of Session (July 27, 1671) to be interrogated about the case. As he was coming along under the care of Robert Hamilton, macer of the court, ‘he pretends there were some papers in Colliston’s chamber in Bess Wynd, which would be of great use to him if he took them with him; and therefore begged leave to fetch them, and paroled he should presently return. The macer trusting him simply, Rutherford makes his escape; the rumour whereof running up and down the town, Towie Barclay, who was but lately released from his confinement in Glasgow, comes in to the Lords in the Inner House, and proffered to find him out and fetch him again within an hour; which accordingly he did with a great deal of zeal, expressing that he could not abide cheatry by anything in the world; such persons know one another’s lurking-places so weel.’—Foun.

Captain Rutherford was kept in prison seven years, while justice hesitated about his deservings; but at length, on Sir George Mackenzie coming in as king’s advocate, with resolutions to be more vigorous, the culprit was tried along with William Rutherford, messenger, for the crime of forging writs, and both were soon after (November 28, 1678) executed in the Grassmarket.

Aug
The Privy Council was pretty fully occupied at this time in summoning and fining individuals who had been present at unauthorised religious meetings. For example, ‘Robert Burnes, merchant in Glasgow,’ expiated by a fine of 300 merks his having been at a conventicle lately held at Kirkintilloch. Four persons, described as merchants, were fined each in £100 Scots for being at such a meeting in Hilderston House, Linlithgowshire. A fifth, who had not only been there, but had a child baptised on the occasion, suffered to double the amount. A great number were brought into trouble by having been present at a famous conventicle held a short time before at the Hill of Beith, near Dunfermline. Adam Stobie and eight other men, who had been at both that conventicle and another at Livingseat, and who refused to take an oath regarding them, were ‘ordained to be carried to the plantations in America, and discharged to return under pain of death.’ In thus so harshly thwarting the extreme Presbyterians in their predilections as to clergymen and meetings for worship, the government must have calculated on a certain support from the reactionary feeling engendered by the recent twenty-two years of troubles—that feeling under which we may presume they themselves acted. But a constant repetition of such proceedings against members of the community who were only exercising a natural privilege, and meaning no harm to their, fellow-creatures, could not fail to create very bitter feelings, and gradually muster elements for the destruction of the existing
régime. There was at the same time an effort to deal what was doubtless intended to be equal justice towards the various dissenters whom the Presbyterians themselves were accustomed to persecute when in the possession of power. There were even now Quakers in the tolbooths of Aberdeen, Inverury, Montrose, Edinburgh, and other towns, charged with no other offence than that of holding meetings for their own kind of devotion. Professors of the Catholic faith were also from time to time assailed in ways which, one would think, must have been sufficiently annoying to them, although, there is reason to believe, not quite up to that point of severity which would have been satisfactory to the people on the opposite extreme.

On a slight eminence beside the pastoral Doveran in Banffshire, is a little old-fashioned manor-house, surrounded as usual by a few trees, and bearing the descriptive name of Kinnairdie. Rothiemay and Frendraught—names of painful memory—are in the neighbourhood. Kinnairdie was occupied by the Crichtons of Frendraught, zealous, though unobtrusive Catholics. Word came to the Council as it sat in Edinburgh (August 1670), that in this retired villa ‘there is usual resort publicly to mass every Lord’s day, and four families of the heritors in the parish do, upon the ringing of a bell, go to a room in the said house where there is ane altar erected, and priests do officiate.’ The sheriff of the county was immediately ordered to go and inquire into the matter, to apprehend the priest if he could, and also ‘seize upon any vestments or other popish ornaments made use of in their superstitious worship.’

The sheriff soon after reported that he had seized a Mr Patrick Primrose, who was believed to have officiated as priest at Kinnairdie. He was ordered by the Council to keep this person strictly secured till he should be subjected to trial. By and by, however, ‘being informed that Mr Patrick Primrose, prisoner in the Tolbooth of Banff doeth belong to the queen’s majesty as one of her servants,’ the Council ordered his liberation, ‘he always obliging himself to depart furth of the kingdom, and shall never return thereto under the pain of death.’ This was a comparatively merciful dealing; but poor Primrose was not destined to be benefited by it. Whether the Tolbooth of Banff had not agreed with his health, or some natural disease fell upon him, so it was that he soon after died.

On the 3d of August 1671, severe proceedings were taken with several north-country Catholic families, Gordon of Carmellie, Gordon of Littlemill, and Grant of Ballindalloch, for harbouring papist priests, and being present at mass; also against four priests named Leith, Ross, Forsyth, and Burnet, for saying mass, baptising children, and performing the ceremony of marriage, contrary to divers acts of parliament. On the 1st of February 1672, the Council, understanding that the Countess of Traquair, ‘being popishly affected, doth keep in family with her her son, the Earl of Traquair, and endeavours to educate him in the popish profession, and for that effect doth keep . . . . Irving, a priest, to instruct him therein,’ ordered messengers-at-arms to apprehend her ladyship, or if she could not be laid hold of, to summon her at the Cross of Edinburgh, that she and her son might come before them, in order that they might arrange for his ‘education and breeding conform to act of parliament.’

Accordingly, eight days after, the countess having obeyed the citation, the Council ordained that before the 22d instant she should ‘send her son to Glasgow, and cause deliver him to Mr Gilbert Burnet, Professor of Divinity, to be educat and bred at the College of Glasgow, in the company of the said Mr Gilbert, at the sight, and by the advice, of the Archbishop of Glasgow,’ no servants to be allowed to attend the young earl ‘bot such as are of the reformed religion.’ On the same day, Wauchope, younger of Niddry, and the Lord Semple, were ordered to bring and deliver up their children, ‘in order to their education with some Protestant friend,’ Lord Semple being at the same time called to account ‘for sending his eldest son abroad contrair to the Council’s order.’ Wauchope was on this occasion ordered to give up his eldest son into the charge of his own father, the elder laird, and the parents were forbidden to have for the future any intercourse with their child, except in presence of the Protestant preceptor, into whose charge he was to be put.

We soon after hear of the Countess of Traquair being subjected to a horning for disobeying the Council’s order, while Lord Semple was put into ward in Edinburgh Castle for sending his son to Doway, and only liberated on a petition craving pardon for his’ offence, and giving caution to the extent of ten thousand merks for ‘sending his third son to be educat in schools in Glasgow.’

Lord and Lady Semple yielded to the order of the Council regarding their third son; but the result appears to have been of a kind satisfactory to neither party. In April 1678, Lady Semple (her husband being then dead) complained to the Council regarding her son, that, ‘either through the neglect of those he was recommended to, or through the general humour and corruption of the place, he has been frequently withdrawn from the public ordinances, and so seduced and poisoned with bad principles anent his majesty’s government and laws, as may not only hazard his small fortune, but render his loyalty altogether suspect.’ At her ladyship’s request, the Council gave commission to the Bishop of Argyle and Lord Ross to appoint ‘a person of sound principles’ to attend the boy as his pedagogue.

In March 1672, the Council sent orders to the sheriffs of Aberdeen and Banff for taking stern measures with the papists of their bounds. Sayers and hearers of mass were to be summoned to answer for their ‘crimes,’ to be excommunicated and escheat, and their estates given to the universities. The sheriffs were enjoined to give their support to the bishop and clergy of the diocese in ‘suppressing and rooting out of Popery and Quakerism.’ And ‘whereas we are informed that there is a superstitious monument erected upon the grave of the late Mr Patrick Primrose, priest, in St Peter’s Chapel in the parish of Botarie, we authorise and require you to cause demolish the same.’ Very likely, some of Patrick’s skulking flock had ventured to put upon his tomb that emblem which most expressively recalls what the Saviour suffered for all sects alike. No such thing could be for a moment endured.

The Presbyterian historians of the age speak of these papist persecutions as not springing from a right zeal. Wodrow says the rulers could not ‘for shame’ but do something of that sort, while at the same time doing so much against the Whigs. Indeed, Sir George Mackenzie plainly confesses, it was for ‘allaying the humour of the people,’ to convince them that the rulers were themselves disinclined to popery, the people being ‘bred to believe that episcopacy was a limb of antichrist.' A most deplorable exhibition of Christian feeling on all hands truly. As regards the persecution of the extreme Presbyterians, which was beyond all comparison the deadliest then going on, it takes one of its most curious aspects when, as sometimes happened, an element of benevolence towards some other kind of person intruded. For example, Mr Walter Birnie, preacher, having shewn that he was thrown out of bread in his own profession, and, being blind, could go about no other employment, the Council ordered him two hundred merks to be taken in equal parts out of fines lately imposed on John Tennant in Moss-side and the Lady Glanderston. The pages of Wodrow have familiarised us so much with the idea of the Privy Council as a kind of inquisition for the suppression of a respectable dissent, that we can scarcely think of it in any other character. Yet a survey of its records would shew many beneficent and merciful edicts mingling with the severe order against conventiclers. Petitions for freedom from sickly prisoners or for an abatement of fines, are yielded to in numberless instances—indeed, they appear to have never been refused. In all matters apart from the unhappy religions disputes, there is no lack of humane feeling or of a desire to promote the good of the community.

Francis Irving, brother of the Laird of Drum, was before the Privy Council, on account of some very offensive demonstrations which he had lately made. Being a convert from the Protestant faith, he was unusually given to the entertaining of Jesuit priests and the getting up of masses. Under his favour and that of a few similar zealots, a priest had been emboldened to hold a public disputation in favour of his religion, an ‘insolency’ of which there had not been an example in Scotland since Quentin Kennedy argued with John Knox at Maybole. On a recent occasion, at Aberdeen, when certain persons were to be burned for sorcery and witchcraft, and a great crowd was assembled, ‘though he knew that it is a Christian and usual custom that the ministers and people do join in prayers to God for the persons who are to suffer, yet he . . . . when the minister and people went to prayer, stood covered to the great offence of the people, who knew him,’ and when some reminded him of his duty, ‘he quarrelled, at least caused his servant quarrel them.’ His sister Elizabeth, also a papist, being deceased, he resolved to have her buried in a public way in St Nicolas’ Church in Aberdeen, being the principal church there, and for this purpose he collected a great company of his own persuasion, and ‘that the strength, interest, and boldness of the papists there might the more appear,’ he ‘in a most insolent and treasonable way, did raise in arms and bring to the town, from Comar, a band of Highlandmen, armed with guns, hagbuts, pistols, bows and arrows, and other weapons.’ These, ‘after they had entered at the Port, albeit they might have taken a nearer and more private way to the Lady Drum her lodging, where the corpse lay, in the Guestraw,’ being resolved to affront and provoke the magistrates and people, ‘had the confidence to march to the said house alongst, being the most populous and public street in the said town, in rank and order and in warlike posture, a commander marching before and another behind, to the great astonishment and grief of his majesty’s good subjects, affected to the purity of religion.’ On the morning of the day of the funeral, a gentleman went at the order of Francis to the provost of the burgh, told him what was to be done that night, and warned him that, if the people thronged about the funeral company, and any ‘inconvenience ensue there through,’ it should be at the peril of the magistracy, who ought to restrain their people—’ which was a practice without parallel for insolency and boldness.’ ‘About eleven o’clock that night, the corpse being lifted was carried to the church of Aberdeen, with great show and in a public way, with many torches, a great multitude of persons accompanying, the coffin being covered with velvet or cloth, with a cross upon the same, and a priest or some other person going before the corpse, holding out his arms before him, and carrying a crucifix under his cloak or using some other superstitious ceremony.’ The Highlandmen, having their swords drawn, guarded the corpse and torches, ‘and when they came to the church-door, divers others of the company drew their swords and did hold them drawn in the church all the time the corpse was [being] buried.’ ‘In the throng, two of the inhabitants of the town was wounded.’ ‘Next morning, the Highlandmen having marched out of the town, many of them in a braving and insulting manner did shoot and discharge their guns as they went by the provost’s lodging?

Francis was found guilty of ‘a high and insolent riot,’ and condemned to be imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh during pleasure, besides paying the expenses incurred in his prosecution. It does not appear that he suffered much confinement in jail; but he was forbidden to approach within a mile of Aberdeen. It was only on petition that he obtained so far a relaxation from this sentence as to be permitted to visit his mother there, in order to settle some weighty affairs of hers, on which he acted as trustee. On a subsequent petition in July 1671, he was freed from this restraint.—P. C. R.

One Campbell, a writer in Edinburgh, having obtained decreet for a debt against Sir Alexander Cunningham of Robertland, sent a messenger to the baronet’s house with a band of armed Highlanders to poind goods for the amount. Sir Alexander being from home, the party found no difficulty in taking some horses from his grounds, and bringing them to the cross of Irvine to be sold. ‘Sir Alexander gets notice of it; he runs to the Earl of Eglintoun, as bailie of the district; complains how he was affronted, that some had come and plundered his horse under pretence of poinding; [and] procures from him some twenty men to go and recover them. With thir men he enters Irvine, and with violence offers to hinder their poinding. The provost being present, entreated them to behave civilly, and remember they were in a burgh-royal. Robertland’s man [Alexander Kennedy], after much insolent boasting, drew his sword and ran at the provost, and would undoubtedly have slain him, had he not been immediately knocked down by some of the town-officers, and killed.’

The baronet prosecuted the burgh for this slaughter, before the Privy Council, but without success. How the burgh sped, in a counter - prosecution for riot in their bounds, does not appear.—Foun.

Sep
The Marquis of
Douglas, a young man, after being engaged for marriage with the daughter of one Widow Jack, a taverner at Perth, was wedded at Aba House to Lady Barbara Erskine, daughter of the Earl of Mar.—Lam.

This was an unfortunate marriage for the lady. The marquis, a man of profligate conduct, was subsequently led by his factor, Lowrie of Blackwood (said to have been a rejected suitor of the lady), to suspect his marchioness of infidelity, and they were consequently separated, after she had born him one child. The sorrows of the Marchioness of Douglas were described in a popular ballad of the day, some verses of which constitute the favourite song of Waly, waly!

‘O wherefore should I busk my head,
Or wherefore should I kaim my hair,
Since my true love has me forsook,
And says he‘ll never love me mair.

Now Arthur’s Seat shall be my bed,
The sheets shall ne’er be pressed by me,
St Anton’s Well shall be my drink,
Since my true love’s forsaken me.

O Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blaw,
And shake the green leaf aff the tree?
O gentle death, when wilt thou come,
And take a life that wearies me?’

The prose reality of all this was, that the marchioness by and by obtained a decree of the Privy Council, allowing her a provision out of her husband’s estate.

The marquis, by a subsequent marriage, was the father of the semi-mad Duke of Douglas and of the celebrated Lady Jane Douglas.


Return to Book Index