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


1671, Jan 19
William Head and John Fergusson, who had ‘practised a lottery by authority in the kingdom of England,’ were authorised by the Privy Council to set up a similar adventure in any part of Scotland they pleased, ‘without let or molestation, they behaving themselves as becometh.’—P. C. R.

Mar 2
During the early years of the reign of Charles II., a custom prevailed to a great extent of obtaining from the Privy Council protections against the diligence of creditors. Sometimes a Highland chief could not come to Edinburgh on important affairs of his own, without this safeguard; sometimes the Council could not otherwise be favoured with the company of some man of local influence, whom it desired to see upon important public business. Sir Mungo Murray was unable to attend the funeral of his cousin and namesake, ‘late lieutenant of one of his majesty’s troops of guards,’ unless he got ‘protection against the rigidity of his creditors.’ At this date, the Council received an application for a protection from James Arnot, postmaster at Cockburnspath, an important station on the road from Edinburgh to Berwick. James having involved himself in debt, not only was his person ‘in hazard to be taken with captions, but the horses and furniture reserved for the public use of the lieges upon the post-road are threatened to be poindit.’ As the government owed him as much as would pay his debts, it seemed but reasonable that they should save him from his creditors, which they accordingly did by granting him and his horses protection for a year.—P.
C. R.

1671, May 14
A young woman named Elizabeth Low had an excrescence upon her forehead, eleven inches long, and usually regarded as a horn. It was this day cut out by Arthur Temple of Ravelrig, and deposited in the museum of the Edinburgh University, with a silver plate attesting its history. Law notes that the girl was alive in 1682, and had another horn growing out of the same place.

June 1
Heriot’s Hospital having been for some years established, with sixty boys as inmates, it was customary to hold the 1st of June as a holiday in honour of the founder, one part of the formalities being a procession of the magistrates to the Hospital at nine in the morning ‘to hear sermon.’ David Pringle, ‘nearest of kin to the founder,’ acted as surgeon and barber to the boys, these two heterogeneous crafts being somehow combined by our ancestors. To prepare the boys for appearance this morning before the civic dignitaries, it was necessary that they should be, polled; accordingly, about seven in the morning, Mr Pringle, his other servants being absent about his business, sent a boy to the Hospital, desiring him to take with him any person he could readily get to further the work. The boy unluckily omitted to look for a barber free of the city corporation of barber-chirurgeons, and took with him one William Wood, who was only free of the suburban district of Portsburgh.

This coming to the ears of Archibald Temple, deacon of the said city corporation, a court was speedily held, and David Pringle summoned before it, to answer for the irregularity committed by his boy. The medical officer of Heriot’s Hospital ingenuously confessed the error; but represented his boy as having simply taken the readiest assistant he could get, ‘without the least intention to give the calling offence:’ he added his solemn promise that no such impropriety should ever again occur. The court was disposed to pass over the matter as trivial; but the deacon, having reason to believe that Pringle designedly employed Wood, pressed for punishment, and solemnly vowed he would see it inflicted. He very soon caused Wood to be put up in the Tolbooth. Pringle hereupon appealed to the Town Council for the liberation of Wood, and so further incensed the corporation against himself. By using influence with the magistrates, they obtained a warrant for the apprehension of Pringle, by which he was ‘necessitat for some time to keep his house, and durst not come abroad, they having officers both at the head and

foot of the close to watch and catch him.’ Notwithstanding a petition from him to the Town Council, representing the case, Temple and some of his colleagues persevered till they got Pringle put up in jail, there to lie during the Council’s pleasure, and till he should give satisfaction to ‘the calling.’ They also, during his confinement, passed an ordinance depriving him of all the benefits of his own connection with the corporation, till he should have made full acknowledgment of his offence in writing, and submitted to appropriate censure. In short, the affair, trivial at first, came to be a passionate contention between the barber corporation and their delinquent member, they determined to assert their privileges, and he resolute to make no unworthy submission. After much altercation, the affair came before the Privy Council, who employed the Earl of Argyle and the Earl of Linlithgow to inquire into and report upon it, and it was not till the 11th of January 1672 that the case was adjusted by Pringle making an apology, and the corporation reponing him in his privileges.—P. C. B.

Sep 5
Donald M’Donald, commonly called the Halkit Stikc, had been ~ liberated from the Edinburgh Tolbooth in December 1660, on caution being given by Donald M’Dona.ld, younger of Slate, to the extent of £1000 sterling, that the prisoner should present himself, when called upon, to answer anything that could be laid to his charge. It being found that the Halkit Stirk had ever since lived the life of a robber, and had committed divers slaughters, the young Laird of Slate was now called upon to render up the delinquent or forfeit his caution. The young laird accordingly brought the Halkit Stirk before the Council, and got a discharge of his bond. The robber was committed to the Tolbooth.

During this year, a great impulse seemed to be given to Quakerism both in England and Scotland. It being found, says Law, that a rejection of ordinances and the Scriptures were not taking with the people, they began to have preaching and prayer at their meetings, and to acknowledge the Bible as the rule of their life and judge of controversies. The profession was found thus to be more ‘ensnaring.’ Some men of note, and of parts and learning, such as Robert Barclay of Urie, who afterwards wrote the Apology for the Quakers, now joined the society.

In his dedication to the king, written in 1675, Mr Barclay claimed credit for his sect, not only that they meddled with no civil affairs, but that, in the times of most violent persecution, being ‘clothed in innocency, they have boldly stood to their testimony for God, without creeping into holes or corners, or once hiding themselves, as all other dissenters have done ‘—rather a severe taunt at the extreme Presbyterians, who had been contenders for the political supremacy of their church, and had now to comport themselves as rebels. The Presbyterians, while themselves suffering, approved of the severities against these most innocuous of all Christians; they only thought them not severe enough. Wodrow speaks of the Council as, in 1666, ‘coming to some good resolutions against Quakers,’ but complains generally of its slackness concerning ‘that dangerous sect,’ which, he says, ‘spread terribly during this reign.’

One William Napier, a seafaring man in Montrose, had turned Quaker, and other Quakers began in consequence to draw towards that place, keeping frequent meetings in Napier’s house, ‘to the great scandal of religion and disturbance of the peace and quiet of the burgh.’ On the 12th of January 1672, ‘betwixt twenty and thretty persons did convene at William Napier his house, where they had such pretendit devotion as they pleased to devise, whereupon a great tumult and confusion was like to have been made,’ and the magistrates, to settle matters as far as possible, clapped up fifteen of the congregation in the Tolbooth. On a petition from the magistrates, representing how by these doings the people were becoming ‘deboshed in their principles,’ the Council ordered that William Napier should be sent to Edinburgh, and imprisoned during pleasure in the Tolbooth there, while the rest of the prisoners should remain in durance at Montrose. In this case the Council ultimately took a lenient course. On a humble petition from Napier, representing the injury he would sustain in his business from an intended voyage being stopped, he was ordered to be set at liberty after about a fortnight’s confinement. Three of the company were ordered, on petition, to be liberated eight months after, and on the ensuing day a general order was issued for the liberation of any other Quakers that might still remain in confinement at Montrose.—P. C. B.

A general order was issued by the Council, in March 1672, to the magistrates of Aberdeen, commanding them to execute the laws against a number of the citizens who had deserted the parish churches on account of Quakerism, enjoining that these people should be strictly punished according to act of parliament—that is, fined in the proportion of a fourth of their means for the offence.

In March 1673, there were eleven men in prison at Kelso for attending a Quaker meeting; but the Council, unwilling to keep them confined till the circuit court could try them, sent the Earl of Roxburgh with a commission to judge whether they might be set at liberty or not.

The liberty of conscience which the Quakers asserted as a principle made them unscrupulous in associating with papists, and this formed one of the strongest grounds of prejudice against them. Law relates a childish story of a gentleman Quaker at Montrose being induced by his daughter to repent, and return to church, where he confessed that the chief Quakers kept up a correspondence with the chief papists and with the pope; as also that they ‘had converse with Satan.’

We are assured by Robert Law, that while Quakerism was spreading with an alarming rapidity, there was also a startling abundance of profanity and of abominable offences. Some propensities were indulged with great licence; ‘drunkenness without any shame, men glorying in it;’ ‘dreadful oppression; high contempt of the gospel; gross idolatry; a woman in the south drinking the devil’s health and [that of] his servants; self-murder; and witchcraft and sorceries very common; all which threatened a sad stroke from God upon us.’

The woman here adverted to by Law seems to have been one Marion M’CaIl, spouse to Adam Reid in Mauchline. She was tried, May 8, 1671, before the Court of Justiciary at Ayr, for ‘drinking the good health of the devil,’ and judged to be taken on the first Wednesday of June to the Market Cross of Edinburgh, ‘to be scourged by the hangman from thence to the Nether Bow, and thereafter to be brought back to the Cross again and have her tongue bored and [be] burnt on the cheek;’ further, she. was not to return to the county of Ayr on pain of death.

Law elsewhere tells of a debauch, at which a similar indecorum was committed, and which was the means of carrying off two members of the Scottish peerage. It was the more remarkable as occurring in January 1643, when the nation at large had certainly some most serious concerns on hand, and the general tone was earnestly religious. It is stated that the Earl of Kelly, the Lord Kerr, and David Sandilands, ‘Abercrombie’s brother,’ with other two gentlemen, being met one day, fell a carousing, and, to encourage each other in drinking, began to give healths. When they had drunk many healths, not knowing whose to give next, ‘one of them gives the devil’s health, and the rest pledges him. Sandilands that night, going down stairs, fell and broke his neck; Kelly and Kerr within a few days sickened of a fever and died; the fourth also died shortly; and the fifth, being under some remorse, lived some time.’ It may be added that ‘ane great drink,’ as it was called in a chronicle of the day, having thus carried off Lord Kerr, the titles of his father, the Earl of Roxburgh, passed by his daughter into a branch of another family, the Drummonds of Perth. This victim of the wine-cup had appeared for the Covenant at Dunse Law, but afterwards became a royalist.

1672, Feb 26
From the commencement of the religious troubles in 1638, the Privy Council Record gives comparatively few of those notices of new manufactures attempted in Scotland, or proposed to be introduced by strangers, for which the previous thirty years of peace were so remarkable. Amidst endless notices of religious persecution, it gives an agreeable surprise, at the date noted, to light upon an application from Philip Vander Straten, a native of Bruges, for the benefit of naturalisation and freedom of working and trafficking, while embarking a considerable sum of money in a work at Kelso for dressing and refining of wool.’ The petition was at once complied with.—P. C. R.

Two years later (March 19, 1674), the commencement of a humbler and less useful branch of industry is noted. At that date, Andrew M’Kairter represented to the Privy Council that, being a young boy at the schools of Dalmellington at the time of the Pentland insurrection in 1666, he had joined in that affair, and after its conclusion, ‘out of a childish fear did run away to Newcastle, and having there, and in London, and Holland, served ane long appenticeship in spinning of tobacco,’ he was now returned to his native country, and ‘hath set up the said trade at Leith.’ His desire was to make his peace with the government by signing the bond for the public peace. The Council entertained the petition graciously, and Andrew became, we may suppose, the first practitioner of tobacco-spinning in Leith.

Apr
At this time, and for six mouths previously, the small-pox raged in Glasgow. Hardly a family escaped the infection, and eight hundred deaths and upwards occurred.—Law.

Some sensation was excited by the rumour that in a ship lying at Newcastle, called the Cape of Good Hope of London, the devil had appeared in bodily shape, in the habit of a seaman, with a blue cravat about his neck, and desired the master of the ship to remove out of her; which he did not obey till sic time as she began to sink in the ocean. Then he, with his company, took his cock-boat, who were saved by another ship coming by. This was testified by the oaths of them that were in her.’—Law. It is seldom that the devil is found so obliging as he seems to have been in this case.

It may serve to verify the possibility of such a rumour in the reign of Charles II., that, in March 1682, the Privy Council was informed that ‘one Margaret Dougall is imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Ayr, as alleged guilty of raising and consulting the devil;’ and an order was given that she be transported from sheriff to sheriff until brought to and placed in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, that she might be brought to a legal trial—P. C. B.

May 27
Joannes Michael Philo, physician, and ‘sworn operator to his majesty,’ was, on petition, allowed to erect a public stage in Edinburgh for the practice of his profession, but ‘discharged to have any rope-dancing.’—P. C. R. It was some time after stated regarding this personage, that he did erect a stage in Edinburgh, and ‘thereon has cured thretteen blind persons, several lame, and cut several cancers, and done many other notable cures, as is notourly known, and that out of mere charity.’ He was therefore invested by the Council, on petition, with a warrant to go and do likewise in all the other burghs of the kingdom, up till February next; the Council further recommending him to the magistrates of these burghs, that they may give him due help and countenance.

His stage was then taken down by the magistrates of Edinburgh, ‘before he could have time to complete many considerable cures,’ which he had had on hand. There also came to him from remote parts of the country ‘five or six poor blind people, and as many with cancers, whose poverty will not admit the same to be done otherwise than upon the public stage, where they have their cure gratis and their entertainment in the meantime upon [the operator’s] charges.’ He therefore petitioned to have his stage re-erected in Edinburgh for a time; which was complied with.

June 12
On the parliament sitting down to-day, under the Duke of Lauderdale as commissioner, his ‘lady, with the number of thirty or forty more ladies, accompanies the duke to the parliament in coaches, and are set down in the Parliament House, and sat there to hear the commissioner’s speech.’—Law. ‘A practice so new and extraordinary, that it raised the indignation of the people very much against her; they hating to find that aspired to by her, which none of our queens had ever attempted.’ It ‘set them to inquire into her origin and faults, and to rail against the lowness of the one, and the suspicions of the other. . . . This malice grew daily against her.’

The duke, at fifty-seven, and, it is said, only six weeks a widower, had married the duchess in the preceding February in London, all their friends in Edinburgh making feasts on their marriage-day, while ‘the Castle shot as many guns as on his majesty’s birthday.’ Her grace, now forty-five years of age, was in her personal qualities and history a most remarkable woman. Her wit and cleverness were something singular; ‘nor had the extraordinary beauty she possessed while she was young, ceded at the age at which she was then arrived.’ The daughter of one who had been minister of Dysart, she was Countess of Dysart in her own right, and by Sir Lionel Tollemache had had a large family, which is still represented in the peerage. There was something romantic in her union with the now all-powerful Lauderdale. He had owed to her his life, through her influence with Cromwell, and in his marriage, which was discommended by all his friends, ‘he really yielded to his gratitude." For the next ten years, it might be said that Lauderdale and his clever duchess were all but nominally king and queen of Scotland.


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