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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of George I: 1714 - 1727 Part 6


1723, May 9
An Edinburgh newspaper of this date makes an announcement of a very homely and simple kind, but from which one may nevertheless draw a few inferences illustrative of the age. It is ‘to give notice, that there is a fine bullock to the value of £20 sterling to be killed at Dalkeith the 14th of May, and to be exposed to sale the 16th instant; and whoever has a mind for any of the said bullock, let them repair to the fishmarket of Dalkeith against the hours of nine and ten o’clock in the morning, on the said 16th day of May, where they shall be kindly entertained by the owners of the said ox: likewise you shall have him more reasonable in proportion than any beef was sold in Scotland this year of God. For your encouragement, you shall have his prin­cipal pieces, such as his back-sayes, his fore-sayes, breasts, runners, flanks, hook-bones, marrow-hones, collop-pieces, and rump-pieces, all at
4s Scots per pound, and his other pieces at 3s. per pound; or, if you please to buy it by the lump without weighing, they shall be welcome. The said ox is two ells and one inch high; in length from the root of the ear to his hip-bone, two yards three quarters; it is calculated by all tradesmen that ever did see him, that he will have ten stone-weight of tallow in his belly. He is one of the same country breed, bought by George Lamb, drover in Greenlaw from the Right Honourablo Lord Hopetoun in the year 1721. There is none in this age ever did see any in this place of Britain like him; I doubt if any such as him be, or to be equalised in England at this day. He has been fed this two years, and he is only six years old just now.

Aug
Mr Wodrow was never long without some perilous affair to grieve over. ‘We have,’ says he at this date,‘lamentable accounts of the growth of Episcopal Jacobite meeting-houses in the north, especially in Angus. The Commission (of the General Assembly) has sent up an address about them.’’

In the summer of the previous year, a chapel for the use of those in communion with the Church of England according to law, was opened at the foot of Blackfriars’ Wynd, in Edinburgh, with ‘an altar and pulpit handsomely adorned.’ The news­papers of the day inform us—’ Some impious persons, in contempt of all laws human and divine, have demolished several of the glass-windows; but it’s hoped that care will be taken to prevent such scandalous abuses in time coming.’

The summer of this year was remarked to be unusually dry and sultry, with little wind. The air seemed stagnant, and the water unwholesome. Vast abundance of flies resulted, and a bloody flux became prevalent. ‘In one quarter of the parish (of Eastwood, in Renfrewshire)’ says Wodrow, ‘I saw nineteen sick persons in one day (August 23), and all of them save one of the flux.’ ‘I have never seen so much sickness in Eastwood for twenty years.’

Nov 7
A symptom of the gradual softening away of the sombre habits of the people was exhibited in the earlier part of this year, in the commencement of what was called the Assembly in Edinburgh, by which was meant an arrangement for a weekly meeting of the younger people of both sexes, for the purpose of dancing. The adventure was at first on a very modest scale, and the place of meeting - in the great ball in Patrick Steil’s Close ‘—might be considered as obscure. The people who patronised it were chiefly of those at once Tories in politics and Episcopalians in religion, who, all through the last century, stood in opposition to the gene­ral feelings and habits of their countrymen. They were doubtless well satisfied of the legitimate and even laudable character of their design; yet it appears they felt themselves put on the defensive before the public, and were not a little solicitous to give their project a fair appearance. It was loudly proclaimed that the improvement of manners, the imparting of a ‘genteel behaviour,’ was in view; the utility of healthful exercise was insinuated; and a great point was made of the balances to be handed to the poor, for whose benefit no regulated charitable institution as yet existed. Great care was also professedly taken to insure perfect propriety on the part of the company. The ball opened at four in the after­noon, and was rigorously closed at eleven. Without tickets, at half-a-crown each, there could be no admission. Discreet matrons held indisputable sovereignty over the scene, before whom no vice could dare to shew its face.

The Assembly, of course, met with opposition from the square-toed part of society. ‘Some of the ministers published their warnings and admonitions against promiscuous dancing, and in one of their printed papers, which was cried about the streets, it was said that the devils were particularly busy upon such occasions.’’ A paper pellet was launched, under the title of A Letter from a Gentleman in the Country to his Friend in the City, with an Answer thereto, concerning the New Assembly; from which we learn that there were serious apprehensions, not only that these weekly meetings would introduce effeminate habits amongst the nobility and gentry, preventing them from serving their country in ‘time useful arts and sciences,’ but that they would encourage vice and prodigality, and thus prove ‘scandalous to religion, and of dangerous consequence to human society.’ The gentleman of the city was particularly distressed in remarking, that ‘the ordinary time spent in public worship each Lord’s Day comes short of the seven hours spent in the Assembly.’ He remarked, moreover, that Edinburgh was a place to which young men were sent for their education, and also to learn ‘merchan­dising’ and mechanical employments. These young persons would now be liable to be diverted from their proper pursuits in order to study how best to dress themselves for the Assembly, and how in that scene of levity they might best make favour with the fair. Slier attending there, they would most likely go to taverns. In short, they would be thoroughly depraved, and the objects of their parents in sending them to town entirely frustrated.

The institution was viewed with especial horror by the more stern professors of Presbyterianism, as fully appears from a book of Patrick Walker, written soon after, in which lie reviews the vanities of the age generally. ‘Some years ago,’ he says, ‘we had a profane, obscene meeting, called the Horn Order; and now we have got a new assembly and public meeting called Love for Love . . . . all nurseries of profanity and vanity, and excitements to base lusts; so that it is a shame to speak of these things that are said and done amongst them. Some years ago, our women deformed their heads with cock-ups’ (‘some of them half a yard high, set with wires’); ‘and now they deform their bodies with farthingales nine yards about; some of them in three stories, very unbecoming women professing godliness……If we would allow ourselves to think or consider, we need not be so vain or look so high, being born heirs of wrath, and our bodies to go to a consuming stinking grave . . . and considering the end of our clothing and how we came by them, to cover our nakedness and for warmness to our bodies, and that the sheep’s old clothes are our new.’

Patrick fairly wondered how any one that ever knew what it was to bow a knee in prayer, ‘durst crook a bough to fyke and fling at a piper’s and fiddler’s springs. I bless the Lord,’ says he, ‘that so ordered my lot in my dancing-days, that made the fear of the bloody rope and bullets to my neck and head, the pain of boots, thumbikens, and irons, cold and hunger, wetness and weariness, to stop the lightness of my head and the wantonness of my feet.’ He felt bound to denounce dancing as a ‘common evil,’ especially among young professors, and he was peculiarly indignant at there being a dancing tune called the Cameronian March, which he conceived to be a mockery of the worthy name of Richard Cameron. In Patrick’s view, however, dancing was but a symptom of a general departure from the grave, correct habits of former times. ‘In our speech,’ says he, ‘our Scripture and old Scots names are gone out of request; instead of Father and Mother, Mamma and Papa, training children to speak nonsense, and what they do not understand.’ He likewise com­plains of ‘a scandalous omission of the worship of God in families . . . . abounding amongst us in Edinburgh, the most part singing only a verse of a psalm and reading a chapter; on the Sabbath evening some pray and many not, and no more till the next Sabbath evening.’ The open profanation of the Lord’s Day he saw to be more and more abounding in Scotland. ‘The throng streets, particularly fields, milk-houses, ale-houses in and about sinful Edinburgh, is a sad evidence of this; many going to the fields before sermons, and after sermons multitudes go to their walks.’ He states that ‘three in one parish in 1716, and nine together in a neighbour parish in 1717, all of them professors, went to the cornfields in these Sabbath mornings, and did shear so many sheaves of corn.’

The poet Allan Ramsay, who maintained a Horatian code of gaiety and enjoyment in the midst of puritanic soberness, strongly took part with the Assembly, and addressed its fair adherents in a poem which, with its prose dedication, has supplied us with some of the above facts. Allan may have had his heart in his theme, but little is to be said for the eloquence of his verses; nor were some of his views as to the pleasures of the Assembly at all calculated to do away with the prejudices of its opponents. We are told, however, that both in the case of the Assembly and that of the Playhouse, hereafter to be noticed, ‘the ministers lost ground, to their great mortification, for the most part of the ladies turned rebels to their remonstrance.

Two young men destined to be remembered by their country were in the habit of attending the Assembly: one of them a hard­headed, yet speculative genius, rising at the bar; the other a Philandering, sentimental being, absorbed in poetry and Jacobitism; their names Henry Home of Kames and William Hamilton of Bangonr; at this time, living in bonds of strongest friendship. Hamilton one day addressed Home ‘in the Assembly,’ thus:

‘While, crowned with radiant charms divine,
Uunumbered beauties round thee shine;
When Erskine leads her happy man,
And Johnston shakes the fluttering fan.

When beauteous Pringle shines confest,
And gently heaves her swelling breast,
Her raptured partner still at gaze,
Pursuing through each winding maze;
Say, youth, and canst thou keep secure
Thy heart from conquering beauty’s power ?

                                              *                     *                     *

For me, my happier lot decrees
The joys of love that constant please.
My Hume, my beauteous Hume, constrains
My heart in voluntary chains        
Has she not all the charms that lie
In Gordon’s blush and Lockhart’s eye;
The down of lovely Haya’s hair,
Killochia’s shape or Cockburn’s air ?

This affords us some idea of the beauties who gave its first attractions to the Assembly.

Nov 9
As a symptom of a good tendency, it is pleasant to notice at this date the establishment of a Society for Improving in the Knowledge of Agriculture, which proposed to hold quarterly general meetings in Edinburgh. The Marquis of Lothian, the Earl of Kinnoull, Lord Elibank, John Campbell, Esq., Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir George Dunbar of Mochrum, Sir Alexander Hope of Kerse, Mr Lumsden of Innergellie, Mr John Murray, one of the Clerks of Session, and Ronald Campbell of Balerno, W. S., are enumerated as amongst the constituent members.’ The Society in a short time comprehended three hundred of the principal landholders of Scotland. The centre and animating spirit of the fraternity is understood to have been a young Galloway gentleman, Robert Maxwell of Arkland, who about this time took a lease of the farm of Clifton-hall, near Edinburgh, and was there disposed to make experiments in improved husbandry.

The Improvers, as they were called, from the very first shewed a spirit of activity. In September 1724, we hear of them as being about to publish a book upon the fallowing of ground, the method of ordering ground for grass-seeds, the winning and cleaning of flax, and rules for bleaching linen cloth. At the same time, they patriotically entered into a resolution to discourage the use of smuggled foreign spirits by their personal example, and to use means for promoting the manufacture of spirits from native products.

A few of their doings appear to us in a somewhat ludicrous light. For example—in July 1732, they figure in a tradesman’s advertisement of Punch Brandy, as certifying it to be ‘a very nice and exact composition,’ after trials of it both in drams and punch.’

Two years later, it goes equally out of its way, but with better excuse, in recommending the woollen cloths made by Andrew Gardner, merchant in Edinburgh, and Andrew Ross, clothier in Musselburgh, as ‘sufficient cloths’ from five to fifteen shillings a yard; the encouraging of which will tend to advance a branch of native industry, and prevent the pernicious exportation of wool.

Nevertheless, there is all fair reason to believe that the Improvers were really worthy of their name. A volume of their Transactions, which Maxwell edited in 1743, enables us to judge of the general scope of their efforts. Meeting once a fortnight at a house near Hope Park, they received queries from individuals throughout the country on agricultural subjects, took these into consideration, and prepared answers. Fallowing, manuring, enclosing, how to treat different kinds of soils, the merits of the Lucerne and St Foin grasses, were the chief subjects discussed; and it must be acknow­ledged that their transactions bear a general air of judgment and good sense, in addition to a most earnest desire to make two blades grow where one grew before, and so increase the general wealth of the country.

The president for a number of years was Thomas Hope of Rankeillor, a man who deserves to be better remembered than he is. He took, in 1722, a long lease of a marshy meadow to the south of Edinburgh, drained it, and made it into a fine park with shady walks for the recreation of the citizens. He had travelled in England, France, and Holland, to pick up hints for the improvement of agriculture, and he was indefatigable in his efforts to get these introduced at home. It was somewhere in prospect of his park that the Society held its meetings. His relative, the contemporaneous Earl of Hopetoun, the Earl of Stair, the Earl of Ilay, Lord Cathcart, Lord Drnmmore, Sir John Dalrymple of Cousland, and Mr Cockburn of Ormiston, were other special zealots in the business of the Society, and whose names figure honourably in its transactions. It is particularly remembered, to the honour of the Earl of Stair, that he was the first to raise turnips in the open fields, and so laid the foundation of the most important branch of the store-husbandry of modern times.

Dec
When cattle were stolen in the Highlands, one of the means commonly taken for their recovery was to send an emissary into the supposed country of the thief:, and offer a reward for his discovery. This was known among the Highlanders as tascal­money, and held in general abhorrence; yet
it was sometimes effectual for its purpose.

The Camerons living at issue with the government, had many disorderly men among them, and tascal-money became accordingly with them a peculiar abomination. To so great a height did this run, that a large portion of the clan voluntarily took oath to each other, over a drawn dirk, according to their custom, that they would never receive any such reward; otherwise might the weapon be employed in depriving them of their lives.

A creaqh had taken place, and one of the Camerons was strongly suspected of having given information and taken the unclean thing. A few of his companions consequently called at his house one evening, and, pretending to have some business with him, took him out from his wife and family to a place at such distance as to be out of hearing, where they coolly deprived him of his life. The story is only related in the pages of Burt but there is too good reason to believe in its verity. The reporter adds, that for the same offence, another was made away with, and never more heard of.

1724, Jan
A more gay and easy style of ideas was everywhere creeping in, to replace the stern and sombre manners of former less happy times. The ever-watchful Mr Wodrow observed the process going on even in the comparatively serious city of Glasgow. He remarks at this time how the young men of that city are less religiously educated than formerly, and how, going abroad in mercantile capacities, they come back with the loose habits of other countries. At the university, the students were beginning
to evince a tendency to freedom of thought, and the statement of Trinitarian doctrines by the professors sometimes excited amongst them appearances of dissent and of derision. In the city where there had been a few years back seventy-two regular meetings for prayer, there were now four, while clubs for debating on miscel­laneous, and often irreverent questions, were coming into vogue. The discipline of the church was begining to be less regarded; delinquents receive countenance from society; women of improper character were occasionally seen on the open street! It seemed to Mr Wodrow that some desolating stroke was impending over the western city. Indeed, they had already lost twenty thousand pounds through the Custom-house difficulties regarding tobacco. I wish it may be sanctified to them.’

The worthy minister of Eastwood received soon after a small piece of comforting information from Orkney. A minister in that archipelago, being one Saturday detained from crossing a ferry to preach next day, was induced to break the Sabbath in order to fulfil his engagement, for which, as ‘scandalous,’ the presbytery processed him. It ‘shews they are stricter there in discipline than we are.’ On the other hand, the College lads at Glasgow, excited by the process of the presbytery and synod against the liberal Professor Simson, went the length of writing a play taking off the city clergy. ‘Matters are come to a sad pass when people begin openly to mock and ridicule gospel ministers; that strikes at the root of all religion!’

Mr Wodrow’s report about the state of religion in the army is contradictory. On one page, we hear a lamentation for some serious Christian officers who had left no successors; on another, there is rejoicing over several still living, of the highest religious practice, as Colonel Blackader, Colonel Erskine, Lient.-colonel Cunninghame, and Major Gardiner of ‘Stair’s Gray Horse.’ These were all of them men of the strictest morals, and who gave much of their time to religious exercises, Gardiner spending four hours every morning in ‘secret religion.’ Regarding the con­version of this last gentleman, whose fate it was to die on the field of Prestonpans, and to have his life written by Doddridge, Wodrow rather unexpectedly fails to give any trace of the strange tale told by his biographer regarding his conversion, remarking, on the contrary, that the change wrought on him a few years ago was ‘gradual and insensible.’

Jan 29
The treatment of a bad class of insolvents at this period seems to have been considerably different from anything of the kind now in fashion. On this day, according to an Edinburgh newspaper, ‘one George Cowan, a Glasgow merchant, stood in the pillory here, with this inscription on his breast: ‘GEORGE COWAN, A NOTORIOUS FRAUDULENT BANKRUPT.’

Feb
A Society for cultivating historical literature was established in Edinburgh, though not destined to make any great or permanent mark on the age. It took its rise among men of Whig professions, and, perhaps, its having party objects in view was mainly what forbade it to acquire stability or perfect any considerable work. At its head is found a man of no small merit as an editor of historical muniments, James Anderson. It included the names of the Rev. George Logan, afterwards noted for his contro­versies with Ruddiman; Charles M’Ky, professor of history in the Edinburgh University; and two or three other persons of less note. Mr Wodrow, whose laborious History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland had now been a couple of years before the world, was invited to join. The first business before this Society was to consider what could be done towards a new edition of the works of George Buchanan. These had been published in goodly form by Robert Freebairn in 1715—a credit to the Scottish press in externals, and in the learning of the editor, Thomas Ruddiman; but the Whigs had to regret that the annotations were in a strain sadly out of harmony with that of a democratic author; and hence their desire to see another edition. The Society was now holding meetings once a fortnight for the preparation of such a work, and were even disposed to ask that an edition contemplated in Holland should be delayed till theirs came out, in order that their views should obtain additional circulation yet it never came to perfection, and the curtain of oblivion soon after falls upon the Historical Society.

Mar
Gordon of Glenbucket had been invested by the Duke of Gordon in some lands in Badenoch by virtue of a wadset.’ The tenants, Macphersons, felt aggrieved at having a new landlord put over them, and refused to pay any rent. Glenbucket conse­quently raised a process at law for their ejection, a measure which was then as much calculated to engender murderous feelings in Scotland, as it has since been in Ireland.

Five or six of them, young fellows, the sons of gentlemen, including Alexander Macpherson, son of Breakachie; Andrew Macpherson, son of Benchar; and John Macpherson, nephew of Killihuntly, came one evening to Glenbneket’s house, which they entered as seeming friends. He was sickly and under the influence of medicine, and was sitting on his low-framed bedstead, preparing to go to rest. They told him they had come to express their regret for the dispute which had happened—they were now resolved to acknowledge him as their landlord, and pay him rent—and they had only to entreat that he would withdraw from the legal pro­ceedings he had entered upon. While addressing him in this manner, they gradually drew close to him, in order to prevent him from defending himself against their contemplated onslaught, for they knew his courage and vigour, and that he was not far from his arms. They then suddenly fell upon him with their dirks, and, having him for the moment at advantage, they gave him many wounds, though none that were deadly. He contrived, amidst the bustle, to lay hold of his broadsword, which lay on the tester of his bed; and thus armed, he soon drove his assassins from the house. Burt, who relates this incident, remarks, with just surprise, that it took place within sight of the barrack at Ruthven.

The young men above named, being believed to be the perpe­trators of this crime, were soon after outlawed for failing to attend the summons of the Court of Justiciary. They were so far under terror of the law, that they found it necessary to ‘take to the bent;’ but they nevertheless continued with arms in their hands, and, in company with others who had joined them, lived tolerably well by spulyie committed on the Duke of Gordon’s tenants in Badenoch.

In November 1725, General Wade is found sending a circular to the officers commanding the six Highland companies, ordering them, in compliance with a request from the duke, to use diligence in discovering and taking these outlaws, and any who might harbour them, in order to their being brought to justice. This effort, however, seems to have been attended with no good effect; and in the ensuing July, the duke wrote to the general, express­ing his ‘free consent that application be made for taking off the sentence of fugitation’ against six associates of the assassins —namely, John Macpherson in Bellachroan; Elias Macpherson in Coraldie; Alexander Macpherson, nephew to Killihuntly; William Macpherson, son to Essick; Donald Macpherson, son to John Oig Macpherson in Muccoul; and Lachlan Macpherson of Laggan, provided they delivered up their arms, and promised to live as obedient subjects to King George in future. His Grace at the same time expressed his opinion, that it was absolutely necessary for the peace of Badenoch that the three principals in the attack on Glenbucket should be brought to justice. The general accordingly ordered fresh and vigorous efforts to be made for the apprehension of these persons. We learn from Burt that they were ultimately forced to take refuge in foreign countries.

Apr 8
The people of Edinburgh were regaled with the amusing spectacle of a bank beat through the city, by permission of King George, for recruits to the king of Prussia’s regiment of ultra-tall grenadiers. Two guineas of earnest-money were administered. A local chronicler assures his readers, that ‘those listed are men of such proper size and good countenances, as we need not be ashamed of them in foreign services.’ A recruiting for the same regiment is noticed in Edinburgh four years later.

Apr 10
The Rev. Mr J. Anderson, in a letter of this date, gives Mr Wodrow an account of a dumb gentleman, a Mr Gordon, who attracted great attention on account of the knowledge he appeared to have of things not patent to ordinary observation, and with which he had no visible means of becoming acquainted. The powers of clairvoyance occasionally attributed in old times to dumb persons have already been adverted to. Gordon, who was a man of respectable connections, and seventy years of age, a widower with three grown children, and supported chiefly by going about among his friends, had thoroughly excited the wonder of Mr Anderson.

A lady, missing some brandy, asked Mr Gordon who had taken it; ‘upon which he went to the kitchen, and brought up one of the maid-servants, to whom, before her lady, he signed that she had stolen the keys of the cellar and taken it away…. the servant was forced to own all.’ 

On another occasion, ‘a gauger coming in, whom he had never seen before, he signed before the company present what was his business; that he had been a soldier, and how long he had been a gauger in this country, and how long in Fife, and that he had once been suspended, and again reponed, with several other particulars, which astonished the man, who owned all to be truth.’

‘A child of seven years of age engaging one of the company to play with pins at Heads and Points, the person soon got all his pins, the child having no skill to hide them. The lady, the mother of the child, told the person in jest she shonld win back the child’s pins; and, Gordon drawing near, he still directed her how to lay when the other person was hiding, and she never failed to win till all ‘were got back. . . . . When he gets money from ministers, he very oft signs whether they give it out of their own pocket or out of the poor’s box… To a minister’s family here he signed, when he came to the house, where he was, and some­times what he was doing—particularly at a certain hour, if he was shaving; which, upon the minister’s return, he owned to be true.’

Some, adds Mr Anderson, think he has converse with a familiar spirit; and it ‘s certain that dumb people have frequently been their tools.

May
There was profound peace, and the seasons for twelve years past had been favourable; yet we hear at this time of a general poverty in the land, and that, too, from a reporter in the neighbourhood of Glasgow, where, if anywhere, there had been some fruitful industry in consequence of the Union. Mr Wodrow’s statements are, indeed, to be taken with some caution, as his views of national wellbeing are apt to be distorted by his fears regarding changes of religious feeling and practice. Still, the picture he draws must have involved some, though not the whole truth.

He tells that under this peace ‘we are growing much worse. The gentry and nobility are either discontent or Jacobite, or profane; and the people are turning loose, worldly, and very disaffected. The poverty and debts of many are increasing, and I cannot see how it can be otherwise. There are no ways to bring specie into this country. Trade is much failed (the tobacco-trade of the Clyde had temporarily declined under the malignant efforts of the English ports). Any trade we have is of that kind that takes money from among us, and brings in French brandy, Irish meal (oatmeal was but fourpence a peck), tea, &c. Unless it be a few coals from the west (the coal-field of Ayr and Renfrew­shires), and some black-cattle from the south (Galloway), and many of these are not our breed, but Irish, I see no branch of our business that brings in any money. The prodigious run of our nobility and gentry to England, their wintering there, and educating their children there . . . . takes away a vast deal of money every year. It‘s plain we are overstocked with people, considering their idleness, and that makes the consumpt very great;’ which will infallibly at length impoverish us. To say nothing of the vast losses many have sustained by the South Sea, York Buildings, our Fishing Company, and other bubbles. The Lord, for our sins, is angry, and frowns upon us, in outwards (i.e., outward circumstances).

In the district of Galloway (Kirkcudbright and Wigtonshires), where the basis of the population is Celtic, the idleness and consequent poverty of the people was peculiarly great. There was a prodigious number of small tenantry, of very indolent character, and who were accustomed to ‘run out’ or exhaust their land to the last extremity, cropping it two years for one of lea, of course without manure, and being at the same time generally several years behind in their rents. It was a state of things very like what our own advanced age has been fated strangely to see prevalent over large tracts of Ireland and of the Highlands of Scotland—a fearful misapplication and misplacement of human nature, with frightful natural consequences in chronic misery and disorganisation. The landlords, anxious to introduce a better system, began to subdivide and enclose their lands, in order to stock them with black-cattle, and to eject tenants hopelessly sunk in idleness and poverty.

Among those ejected on the estates of Gordon of Earlstoun and the Visconntess Kenmure, were two farmers of better means, whose only fault was that they would not engage for the solvency of their sub-tenantry; and these two now banded together to support each other in keeping possession of their holdings. Others readily came into this covenant. A common sense of suffering, if not wrong, pervading the country, raised up large bands of the miserable people, who, deeming the enclosures a symbol of the antagonist system, began to pull these down wherever they came. ‘Their manner was to appoint a meeting on Tuesday, and continue together till Thursday, and then separate. They prepared gavelochs (levers) and other instruments, and did their work most dexterously. Herds and young boys first turned over the head and loose stones; then the women, with the hand and shoulders, turned down the dike; the men came last, and turned up the foundation.’ A band of thirty of the Levellers, as they were ominously called, went to Kirkcudbright, and there published a manifesto, declaring the government of the country to be now in the hands of the tenantry, and ordering all who had any debates to come to them and get them determined.

The gentlemen of the district, irritated, and to some extent alarmed, called in a military force under Lord Crichton and a French Protestant refugee officer, Major Du Carry, to preserve the peace. The lairds of Heron and Murdoch, and Gordon of Earlstoun, were for strong measures; Murray of Broughton and Colonel Maxwell inclined to leniency and persuasion. Seven or eight of the ringleaders being taken up, a sort of fiery, cross went through the country on the ensuing day, though a Sunday, ordering the people to assemble at three points for their defence; and a stand was actually made by about thirty against the attack of the troops. One of the gentlemen of the district had a horse wounded under him by a rioter. It seems to have been a fierce and determined encounter on the part of the Levellers; but it ended, as such encounters always end, in the defeat of the insurgent party, of whom sixteen were taken prisoners. As these were being carried away, a mob of women, strong in their weakness and their misery, assailed the soldiers, and one sprang like a wild­cat upon a trooper, but only to be trampled under his horse. The soldiers succeeded in lodging their prisoners in Kirkcudbright tolbooth. At the trials which ensued, those who had any funds were fined; some were banished to the plantations; others were imprisoned. A respectable man, of the name of M’Laherty, who lived in Balmaghie parish . . . . on his being brought to trial, one of the justices admired a handsome Galloway which he rode, and the justice told him, if he would give him the Galloway, he would effect his acquittal, which he accordingly did.’

These severities brought the levelling system to a close in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright; it was kept up for some time later in Wigtonshire, but gradually died away there also. The country was left in the hands of the gentry and soldiery, without any effectual remedy being applied to the evils out of which the dike-breaking had sprung. Herds of miserable people continued going about Galloway, a subject of painful but fruitless compassion to the rest of their countrymen.

A venerable gentleman, just quoted, was able, in 1811, to give the following striking picture of the general manner of living of the Galloway rural population of 1724. ‘The tenants, in general,’ he says, ‘lived very meanly on kail, groats, milk, gradden grinded in querns turned by the hand, and the grain dried in a pot, together with a crock ewe now and then about Martinmas. They were clothed very plainly, and their habitations were most uncomfortable. Their general wear was of cloth, made of waulked plaiding, black and white wool mixed, very coarse, and the cloth rarely dyed. Their hose were made of white plaiding cloth, sewed together, with single-soled shoes, and a black or blue bonnet, none having hats but the lairds, who thought themselves very well dressed for going to church on Sunday with a black kelt-coat of their wife’s making . . The distresses and poverty felt in the country during these times . . . . continned till about the year 1735. In 1725, potatoes were first introduced into the stewartry (of Kirkcudbright) by William Hyland, from Ireland, who carried them on horses’ backs to Edinburgh, where he sold them by pounds and ounces. During these times, when potatoes were not generally raised in the country, there was for the most part a great scarcity of food, bordering on famine; for in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright and county of Dumfries, there was not as much victual produced as was necessary for supplying the inhabitants; and the chief part of what was required for that purpose was brought from the sand-beds of Esk in tumbling cars, on the Wednesdays, to Dnmfries; and when the waters were high by reason of spates—there being no bridges—so that these cars could not come with the meal, I have seen the tradesmen’s wives, in the streets of Dumfries, crying because there was none to be got. At that period there was only one baker in Dnmfries, and he made bawbee baps of coarse flour, chiefly bran, which he occasion­ally carried in creels to the fairs of Urr and Kirkpatrick. The produce of the country in general was gray corn, and you might have travelled from Dumfries to Kirkcudbright, which is twenty-seven miles, without seeing any other grain, except in a gentleman’s croft, which, in general, produced bear or bigg for one-third part, another third in white oats, and the remaining third in gray oats. At that period there was no wheat raised in the country: what was used was brought from Teviot; and it was believed that the soil should not produce wheat….. Cattle were very low. I remember being present at the Bridge-end of Dnmfries in 1736, when Anthony M’Kie, of Netherlaw, sold five score of five-year-old Galloway cattle in good condition to an Englishman at £2, 12s. 6d. each; and old Robert Halliday, who was tenant of a great part of the Preston estate, told me that he reckoned he could graze his cattle on his farms for 2s. 6d. a head—that is to say, his rent corresponded to that sum.’

July 6
Allan Ramsay, in some jocular verses, compliments Mr David Drummond, advocate, for the victory he this day gained as an archer, in ‘shooting for the bowl’ at Musselburgh. The old gentleman had gained the prize of the silver arrow exactly fifty years before. These trivial facts suggest the existence of what was called a Royal Company of Archers all through the reigns of Anne and the first George, a sodality composed almost exclu­sively of the Jacobite aristocracy, and, in fact, a sort of masked muster for the cause of the exiled Stuart. Besides private convivial meetings, where doubtless much enigmatical affection for the old line of princes found vent there was an annual meeting for a shooting-match, attended by a showy procession through the streets of Edinburgh, in order to impress the public with an idea of their numbers, and the rank and influence of the members. They had their captain-general, usually a nobleman of the highest rank; their first and second lieutenant-generals, their adjutant, and other officers; their colours, music, and uniforms; in short, a pretty effective military organisation and appearance. The dress, which they innocently believed to be after the ancient Roman model, was of tartan trimmed with green silk fringe, with a blue bonnet trimmed with green and white ribbons, and the badge of St Andrew in the front; their bows and swords hung with green and white ribbons; the officers being further distin­guished by having the dress laid over with silver lace. The cavalier spirit of Allan Ramsay glowed at seeing these elegant Specimens of the Aritioi of Scotland engaged at butts and rovers, and often poured itself forth in verses to their praise. Pitcairn, Sir William Bonnet of Grubbet, and Sir William Scott of Thirlstain, were equally ready to celebrate in Latin sapphics their contentions for the bowl and silver arrow at Musselburgh—drolly translated Conchipolis in their verses. There was a constant and obvious wish on the part of the society to look as ‘braid’ as possible, and so let the world slily understand how many men of mark were in their hearts favourable to the still hoped for restoration.

The Royal Company had a particularly ostentatious parade in Edinburgh on the 10th of July 1732. Having assembled in the Parliament Square, a party of thirty-six was despatched under the Earl of Wemyss to the Duke of Hamilton’s lodging in Holyrood, to bring up the standard, on which, besides other insignia, was depicted the national lion ramping in gold, with the significant motto, ‘PRO PATRIA DULCE PERICULUM.’ They then marched through the city to the Links in the following order, as described by a sympathising contemporary record:

‘The Duke of Hamilton, captain-general, preceded by the Lord Bruce on horseback, with fine Turkish furniture, who acted as major-general in absence of the Earl of Crawford; next, the music, consisting of trumpets, hautboys, cors-de-chasse, alter­nately playing the proper march of the company, and answered by nine drams (all in the company’s livery), and they again by the music-bells. Mr David Drummond, advocate, president of the council; Sir Archibald Primrose of Dunipace, and William Sinclair of Roslin, brigadiers, at the head of the first brigade. My Lord Viscount Oxford, brigadier, marched up the second brigade; my Lord Kinnaird, brigadier, the third; George Lock­hart of Carnwath, brigadier, the fourth. The Earl of Wigton, second lieutenant-general, before the colours, which were carried by the Earl of Cassius; and the Lord Rollo, supported by the Earl of Kilmarnock, and Master Thomas Lyon, brigadiers, led up the centre brigade; David Smith of Methven, brigadier, the sixth brigade; Sir Robert Stewart of Tillicultry, brigade the seventh; the eighth and last brigade by the Lord Cranston, brigadier, followed up by James Hepburn of Keith, and the Lord Gairlies, brigadiers, and closed in the rear by the Earl of Wemyss, first lieutenant-general; Colonel John Stewart, brother to Gran­tully, and Arthur Forbes of Pittencrief, acting as adjutants-general, on horseback, on the wings of the several brigades.

‘In front of all marched the several decked horses, and other equipage, &c., of the several officers, which, being very rich and magnificent, made a very fine show; and after them, the silver arrow, carried by the company’s officer.

‘There was on this occasion an infinite crowd of spectators, who came from all quarters to see this splendid appearance, and who expressed their satisfaction by loud acclamations.

‘The lord provost and magistrates saw the procession from a window, and were saluted by the several officers, as did General Wade from a balcony in the Earl of Murray’s lodgings. The governor of Damascus came likewise to see the ceremony. Betwixt one and two o’clock, the company arrived in the Links, whence, after shooting for the arrow (which was won by Mr Balfour of Forret), they marched into Leith in the same order; and after dinner, returned to the city, and saw acted the tragedy called Macbeth.’’

It is very sad to reflect how the Earl of Kilmarnock and some others of this noble company came to ruin a few years after by carrying the play a little too far.

July 15
The magistrates of Edinburgh issued an edict proceeding upon a recital that disturbances have arisen, and may further arise, from gentlemen carrying firearms, and their servants wearing dirks and broadswords, in the streets, a practice ‘contrary to the rules of decency and good order;’ wherefore it was now strictly forbidden. It is to be remarked that in this prohibition there is no notice taken of the swords worn by gentlemen.


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