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Annals of Dunfermline
A.D. 1701 - 1801 - Part 2


1709.—GREAT SNOW AND FROST.—The great snow and frost “which set in with the year 1709,” appears to have been general in Dunfermline and West of Fife.  The snow and frost lasted 37 days.  The burns were all deep frozen, and large numbers of sheep were lost.  (MS. and old newspapers.)

  PENNY MEALS.—“21st Feb., 1709:  The said day the magistrates and town counsel, taking to their consideration the great trouble and great expense the magistrates and thesaurer are at in yearly collecting the penny mealls and annualls payable yearly to the town out of the burgage lands; and, beside that, the toun have no right for some of these pennie mealls, except immemorial use of payment, and that it would be more to the advantage of the toun, and save a great deall of trouble, that the burgesses were allowed to buy and redeem these pennie mealls and annuals:  They therefore did and hereby do enact and declare that any burgess of this burgh who pleases shall have full power to buy and redeem the pennie mealls and annualls payable out of his own proper lands at fifteen years’ purchase, and that upon his paying of the same to the thesaurer for the time, in presence of the counsell, and getting ane extract yr of under the hands of the thesaurer and clerk, the counsel declares, ye sd pennie mealls and annualls renounced and discharged, and ye lands quat and free yr of forever.”  (Burgh Rec.; see also An. Dunf. date 1712.)  This offer of redemption of the meals, &c., at 15 years’ purchase, was at another meeting of the council reduced to 10 years purchase.

  THE PROVINCIAL SYNOD OF FIFE assembled in the Church of Dunfermline on April 7th, 1709.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 436.)

  RALPH ERSKINE, who had been for some months previous to June this year residing within “the bounds of the Presbytery, held on June 8th, 1709, “licensed to preach the everlasting gospel” on same day.  Mr. James Wardlaw (his future colleague) was also licensed.  (Presb. Rec.; Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 428.)

  EXECUTION OF JANET MITCHELL on Town Hill Road for the Murder of her Illegitimate Child.—The following is a copy of minute in the Burgh Records regarding the execution:--“6 Sept. 1709:  The counsel having received a letter fra Robert Ged of Baldridge and John Moubray of Cockarnie, craving the favour of a guard at Janet Mitchel’s execution, they agreed to grant the favour, and ordered the baillies to cause to warn the militia men to be a guard on Thursday next.”  Janet Mitchell, a native of Saline, was condemned to death by the Regality Court of Dunfermline, for the murder of her illegitimate child.  “She died very penitent on the gallows, Town-hill, near Dunfermline.”  In 1764 a pamphlet of 16 pp. was published at Edinburgh, entitled, “A Brief Account of the Last Words and Confession of Janet Mitchel, parishioner of Saline, who was executed at Dunfermline upon the 8th September, 1709, for the horrid crime of child murder.”  The writer has a copy of this very rare pamphlet.  The pamphlet mentions near its conclusion that Janet Mitchel-- 

            “Notwithstanding of her mean education and all her other natural disadvantages, acted rationally and spoke pertinently.  Being asked, very near her being turned over, what particular sins did now stare her in the face, she answered, ‘The bairn,’ but hoped that the Lord had pardoned; and added: ‘O Sirs, pray much for me; now I am a dear bought sight to you.  There is a sight this night betwixt Michael and his angels, and the Dragon and his angels, about my poor soul.  But I hope Michael will prevail, who hath delivered me from these torturing feats of wrath, especially these eight nights bygone.  O pray, pray that the devil may now get a completer disappointment; that the red Dragon’s head may be broken, and he may now be foiled.  O that Christ might overcome him for me, and take a fast grip of the jewel of my precious soul, for I cannot think of dying without Thee.  There are now many looking on me, but there is another kind of company in heaven, who, I hope, will rejoice this night at the coming in of the lost sheep.  O come, leave the ninety and nine and fetch it in.  O that He would send a guard of angels about me, to receive me to Himself; O for faith and strength, comfort and support, for I am going an untrodden path.  The Lord Jesus be my stay and staff, a leader and all to me through the dark valley of the shadow of death, for His name’s sake.  O for an upmaking meal of free grace—a rich alms to make all odds even—for I am one of the poorest beggars that ever came to Thy door.’  And with many more significant expressions, she gave a sigh, saying, ‘unto Thy hands I commend my spirit.’”

  Her body was cut down, after hanging the usual time, and carted to a cross road near the Yetts of Muckart, and there interred.

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—“10th Oct. 1709:  the said day the said magistrates and grand counsel elected and continued Sir Peter Halket of Pitfirrane, Provost.”  (Burgh Records.)

  A WOMAN SMORED IN THE HEUGH.—“17 Nov. 1709:  This day the ocunsell ordered the thesaurer to give to Robert Adie twnetie shillings on charity, to help to bury his daughter smored in the heugh, and to cure his other daughter’s broken leg.”

  1710.—DIED at Dunfermline, James graham, the last Episcopal minister of Dunfermline.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 416, &c.; see also dates 1687-1701.)  There is still extant a small quarto volume of Mr. Graham’s Sermons, 43 pp. (see date 1719.)  Although Mr. Graham was deposed by the Synod in June, 1701, he continued to discharge his pulpit duties in Dunfermline Church until his death this year (1710.)

  GRAHAM’S MORTIFICATION.—In the year 1710, six hundred merks Scots—(£33 6s. 8d. sterling)—were found in the poor’s box at the death of Mr. Graham, which sum was, by the Justices of the Peace, Heritors, and Town Council, mortified in the hands of the town for the benefit of the poor.  By the bond granted by the council, they are obligbed to pay yearly the interest of the above sum, the one half to the poor of the burgh, conform to a list to be  yearly subscribed by the Magistrates and Town Council, and the other half to the poor of the landward part of the parish, conform to a list to be yearly subscribed by the Justices of the Peace and Heritors, or a quorum of them.  (Fernie’s Hist. Dunf. p. 48, 49 and other Hist. Dunf.)

  ROBERT ADIE, one of the bailies of Dunfermline, “a most active, worthy, and  upright man,” died, and was buried in the north porch, where there is a monumental tomb to his memory, with a short inscription on it.

  RIDING THE MARCHES.—“30th May, 1710:  That day the counsel ordered the heall burgesses to be warned to attend the magistrates on horseback at riding of the marches on munday next.  And that such as cannot get horses, shall attend on foot, with certification that each person that answers not to his name at Craigncat, shall be fyned in half a merk without forgiveness; and declares the dean of Gild liable for each gild-brother’s fine, and he to have his relief from the absent gild brethren; and that each deacon of croft be lyable for the absents of his own croft; and the baillies to see to the exacting of the fynes of the common burgess.”  (Burgh Records.)  How do the Marches stand in 1878?

  SIBBALD’S HISTORY OF FIFE, &c., and his Account of Dunfermline.—In the year 1710 Sir Robert Sibbald published his “History, Ancient and Modern, of the Sheriffdoms of Fife and Kinross” (folio edition).  The following are a few notes, taken from this celebrated work, referring to Dunfermline:--

            “Dunfermline is a royal burgh, having its name from a kill near a crooked water, which is the situation of it, for it lies upon the ridge of a hill, sloping gently to the south.  It was the ordinary abode of Malcolm Kenmore.  The ruins of a tower he dwelt in are yet to be seen near to the west bridge.  This King Malcolm III. founded the monastery; and he and his successors, especially David I., did endow the same with great riches and privileges, &c. . . . . . In the town, the town is one long street, which runs from the east to the south-west, where, by a lane, it entereth the King’s Palace, which is famous for the birth of King Charles I.  The monastery is joined to it—a great fabrick.  It was, for the Benedictine Monks, founded by King David, anno 1130.  The town has a manufactory of dornick cloth.  It gives the title of Earl to a branch of the Seatons.  The heritable keeping of the palace, with the revenues of the monastery and the superiority and jurisdiction, belongeth now to the Marquis of Tweeddale.  In Mr. Sletzer’s Theatrum Scotiæ’ there is a prospect of the town and abbey, and another of the abbey.”  (See An. Dunf. under date 1690.)

  Sir Robert closes his meager account in noticing the royal and other interments at Dunfermline, &c.  There are several inaccuracies in his account.  In 1803 a reprint of this work was published by Mr. Tullis, publisher, Cupar-Fife (octavo), edited by the Rev. Dr. Adamson.  The editor illustrates the original text with copious notes.  At page 294 of this edition, there is a very nice view (within an oval space), entitled “Ruins of the Monastery of Dunfermline,”  which view appears to be a reproduction, in miniature, of Juke’s large view of “The Abbey and Palace.”  (See Annals of Dunfermline, date 1792.)  In his first note, the editor of the new edition says—“In some old manuscripts, the Abbey,” &c., “is designated ‘Monasterium de monte infirmorum,’” but does not refer to where the “old manuscripts” are to be seen.  (Sib. Hist. of Fife, 1803 edit. Pp. 293-298.)

  TOWER HILL ROAD CUTTING.—“1 July, 1710:  The ocunsell ordered the thesaurer to give fifteen shillings to John Mackie, in order to help him to pay the expense of cutting the Town Hill to make the highway straight.”  (Burgh Records.)  At this period the only road from Dunfermline to the west was by this road.  Probably the road would be made straight by cutting down part of the Twr-hill brae near the bridge.

  TROUBLESOME DRAGOONS.—“15 July:  The said day the council commissionat the convener to goe to Edinburgh and speak to the advocate and general to see to get the dragoons removed.”  (Burgh Records.)

PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—“9 Oct. 1710;  That day the grand counsel re-elected Sir Peter Halket, of Pitfirrane, Provost.”  (Burgh Records.)

  CHAPMAN’S STANDS.—“15 Nov. 1710:  The said day the magistrates and counsel statute and ordained that in all time coming the chapmen in the public mercats be provided with sufficient furnished stands by the inhabitants or tenents of the landes before which the chapman’s stands are set, at twelve shilling for each stand each mercat; And in case the chapmen be not furnished and provided with stands, as said is, allows the chapmen to set up on the street gratis;  Reserving always power to the counsel to alter this as they shall think fit.”  (Burgh Records.)

  MR. THOMAS BUCHANAN was translated from Tulliallan and admitted to the First Charge of Dunfermline Church on 30th Nov., 1710.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 416.)

  BROWN AND HONEYMAN’S MORTIFICATION.—“30 Dec. 1710:  The said day the counsel, William and David Brown’s and John Honeyman’s mortifications for the year 1710, and six pounds as the half-year of the town’s half of the six hundred merks mortified by the heritors at Whitsunday last, with eight pounds eighteen shillings or augmentation, conform to the particular list this day signed by the magistrates, to be dealt and payd to the respective poor.”  (Burgh Records.)

  1711.—MR. RALPH ERSKINE Preaching as a Probationer.—Early in the year 1711 Mr. Erskine, after having received a certificate (or license) from the Presbytery of Dunfermline, that “he exercised the talents which the Lord had given him within the bounds of the said Presbytery, both in vacancies and settled congregations, to the great satisfaction of his hearers, both ministers and people,” soon after this received a call to Tulliallan, and also to Dunfermline, which latter call he preferred and accepted.  (Dunf. Par. Rec.)

  AN OBSTREPEROUS DEACON.—“30 May, 1711:  That day George Walls, deacon of the Wrights, was, in a fenced court, holden by the provost in presence of the counsel, convict by his own confession of deforcing the magistrates yesternight, and of ringing the tollbooth bell, and throwing stones o ut at the window, and barricading the tollbooth door, refusing entry to the magistrates, and throwing lyme in their faces when attempting to enter, was therefore, by the said provost and counsel suspended of his office as counselor during the counsell’s pleasure, and fyned in twenty pounds scots, to remain in prison till payment, or giving bill therefore.”  On Sept. 7, showing himself “very penitent for his offense,” he was restored to office, &c.  (Burgh Records.)

  MR. RALPH ERSKINE ordained minister of the Second Charge of Dunfermline Church on 7th August, 1711.  (Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 416; vide also An. Dunf. date 1716.)

  LIBRARY.—“29th Sept. 1711:  The said day the magistrates and counsel, taking to their consideration that it would ten much to the benefit of their grammar school, That a library were founded here, did, for encouragement of so good and pious a design, resolve, out of the common good to contribute ten pounds sterling for that end; and did and do hereby recommend to the Gildry and respective corporations of the burgh, and all other persons who pleases frankly to contribut, in order to make up such a sum as may buy such a number of good books as may lay a competent foundation for a library: Declaring always that the foresaid library and heall additions hereafter to be made thereto shall for ever be under the sole management of the oucnsell or such person as they shall appoint keeper, who shall give bond to keep the books safe, and re-deliver them when the counsel shall call for them.  Sic subcrivitur, PET. HALKET.”  It would appear that nothing came out of this excellent proposal.. It is not again noticed in the Burgh Records.  Perhaps the “conditions” made shipwreck of the scheme.

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—“8th Oct. 1711:  The said day, Sir Peter Halket was re-elected Provost.”  (Burgh Records.)

  PENNY WEDDINGS PROHIBITED.—“8th Dec., 1711:  This day the counsel ordains the drum to go through the town to discharge penny weddings in terms of the act of parliament of King Charles the Second.”  (Burgh Records.)

  1712.—MASON LODGE.—There is an entry in the Masons’ Records, of date 15th January, 1712, which cotifies, that the following charities had been bestowed:  “Item, to ane poor man that was taken with the pooks, 6s. Scots; item, to ane blind violer, 12s. Scots; to ye pyper, 12s. Scots; to Geo. Miller, 6s. Scots.”

  CARD MAKER.—In an old MS. book of accounts, there is a notice of 4s. 2d. having been paid to “John Maxwell. Card Maker at the back-o-the-dam.”  These cards were made for carding wool.  The carding and the sorting of wool was at this period carried on to a considerable extent at the back of the dam.  Probably Wooler’s Alley or Woo’ers Alley may in some way have derived its name from the “woo’ carders,” which, according to tradition, were employed in this locality. 

  REDEMPTION OF PENNY MEALS.—The Act of Council, of date 21st February, 1709, regarding the redemption of burgh Meals and Annuals at ten years’ purchase, appears to have been very favourably received by the community.  The following is an extract of the town council meeting on the subject:--

            “3rd March, 1712.—The said day, Robert Adie, late treasurer, now one of the present bailies of the said burgh, did in presence of the counsel, give ina subscription list of the heall penny mealls payable out of the burgage lands of burgh which had been redeemed during his office.  And or redemption thereof by order of the counsel he had received ten years’ purchase.  The counsel ordered the said list to be registrat in the counsel books in perpetuam rei memoriam, and the clerk to give extracts thereof to such persons as should please to call for them.  And declaired and hereby declare, the penny meals contained in the said written list, to be redeemed for now and for ever.”

This said list gives the names of those who had redeemed the meals and annuals, along with the names of the streets wherein their properties were situated; it form an interesting paper for “natives,” a kind of Directory for 1712.  Such is a list of the greater part of “The Worthy Ratepayers of 1712.”  It may be noted here that the meals and annuals in great on flats or compartments of dwellings, and also on “kailyeards.”  The counsel also derived considerable sums from parties who had liberty from them to have “oot-side stairs” projecting from the front of the houses into the street, besides a small annual rent for “the allowance.  (Burgh Records, &c.)

  LORD OF THE CHAPMEN’S STANDS.—“10TH June:  The said day, upon a complaint fra the Lord of Chapmeans, showing that some merchants in the otun set up stands before Gibbs Walls, to the prejudice of the mercat and hindering of the Chapemen to set up their stands,” &c.; “the counsil enact that such must not happen, but declares that they may do so if stranger chapmen come not to set up.”  “Gibb’s Walls” were a little below the Cross, on the north side of the street.  (Burgh Records.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir Peter Halket of Pitfirrane, re-elected Provost.  (Burgh Records.)

  1713.—BROWN’S MORTIFICATION.—“11th March, 1713:  The sad day bailie Wilson represented to the counsel that Mr. William Brown, lecturer in Edinburgh, now minister in South lieth, had given to him thirty-six pounds scots, and ordered him to mortify the same in the toun’s hands on condition that the annual rent of other mortifications.”  (Burgh Records.)

  POPULATION OF THE PARISH—Proposed Third Minister for Dunfermline.—At this period it was proposed (but with success) to have a third minister for the Church of Dunfermline, as the population was 5000, which was considered too great for two ministers.  (Presb. Records.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—“5th Oct. 1713:  This day Sir Peter Halket accepted and gave his oath de fideli, and was re-elected Provost of Dunfermline.”  (Burgh Records.)

  TOWN’S COLLIERS LENT TO THE EARL OF ROTHES, &C.—At this period colliers were slaves.  They were property which could be sold, exchanged, and lent.  On 31st October this year the Earl of Rothes sent  a letter to the town counsel of Dunfermline asking for the loan of two colliers, when the council
”warranted the baillies to lend to the earl, David Murgain and George Brown, upon the earl’s bond to restore them on demand without expence.  And in case the lady Pittencrieff want William Watson, warrants the baillies to len Watson to her.”  (Burgh Records.)

  CATTLE MARKET to be removed to the New Raw.—8 Nov.: counsel resolved that the nolt mercat be removed to the Newraw against March fair next, and same to be intimate at Januar fair.”  (Burgh Records.)

  1714.—MEAL AND FLESH MARKET TO BE BUILT.—“20th Feb.:  The said day the counsel appointed the baillies, dean of gild, convener, baillie Wilsone, John Reid, and george Waggs to draw up a scheme for building a meall and flesh mercat in Gibb’s walls.”  (Burgh Records.)  Before 7th May, 1715, these markets appear to have been erected, as shown by the following council minute:--“7th May, 1715:  The said day allows William Stevinson to advance to William Inglis and John Reid six or seven hundred merks, in part of what the toun ows them on the accompt of their contract for building of the meall and flesh mercat.”  (Burgh Records.)

  THE NEW DRUMMER AND DUTIES, &c.—“29 May:  That day James Cumin dimitted his office of drummer, and the oucnsell unanimously elected John Hoggan drummer in his stead;  And appoints the drummer to goe through alone every morning by four o’clock, an every night alone at seven.  And appoints the piper to go through alone at six in the morning and nyne at night.”  (Burgh Records.)  The community appear to have been very fond of “hard music” in those days.  (See also An. Dunf. date 1701.)

  BUTTER MARKET AND BUTTER SELLING, &C.—“5 June:  The counsel discharges selling of butter of cheese in any place but at the trone, and not til after seven a cloak in the morning in may, june, and july, and til after eight the rest of the year, under the pain of fourty shillings each faillie.”  (Burgh Records.)  Probably the Dunfermline Butter and Cheese Market originated at this time.  These markets continued to be held at the tron until 1832. 

  LITERATURE.—Mr. James Bayne, schoolmaster of the Grammar School, Dunfermline, published a “short Introduction to the Latin Grammar,” 8vo, Edin., 1714.

  CITY OF DUNFERMLINE;--The following extract is given here because it uses the designation, City of Dunfermline:--“June 26th, 1714:  The very Reverend Ralph Erskine, one of the ministers in the City of Dunfermline, gave up his name to be proclaimed, in order to marriage with Margaret Dewar (only daughter of John Dewar of Lassody) and gave to the Box £3 os. od.”  (Beath Par. Regist.  1714.)

  THE QUEEN’S ILLNESS.—List of Fencible Men, Arms, &c.—“5 Aug. 1714:  The counsel having received a letter from the Lord of the justiciary, the barons of the exchequer, the advocate, provost of Edinburgh, the Generall and Solicitor, acquainting them that her Majesty was in danger by sickness; and that it was the command of the Lords of the Privy Counsell that all ministers and others in authority use their utmost endeavour for taking care of the public peace, and to give such directions as may be most likely to prevent any disturbance in the Kingdom, in case her majesty be carried of by this fit of sickness.  The magistrates and counsel judged it proper to appoint and to appoint hereby the baiillies, dean of gild and deacon Wilsone, with such others of the ocunsell as shall please to go along to take up a list of the heall fencible inhabitants, and of the heal arms and ammunitions presently within the burgh and report.”  (Burgh Records.)

  DEATH OF THE QUEEN—George I. Proclaimed.--:7th August, 1714:  That day the magistrates and town counsel being certainly informed that it has pleased almighty God to call to his mercy our late Sovereign Lady, Queen Ann of blessed memory, by whose decease the imperiall Crown of Great brittain, France, and Ireland are solely and rightfully come to the high and mighty prince George, elector of Brunswick and Luxemburg;  and that he had been proclaimed King at London, Edinburgh, and many other towns in the nation:  They therefore resolved this day, at two afternoon, to proclaim from the cross that the said high and mighty prince George, elector of Brunswick Lunenburg is now by the death of our said late Sovereign Lady, of happy memory, become our only lawfull and rightfull liege Lord, George, by the Grace of God, King of great brittain, france, and irland, defender of the faith.”  (Burgh Records.)

  Note.—Queen Anne died on 1st August, 1714, aged 50.  The news of her death appears to have officially reached the magistrates of Dunfermline on August 6th or 7th.

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—“11th Oct., 1714:  The Grand councel continued the provost (Sir Peter Halket) for the ensuing year.”  (Burgh Records.)

  THREATENED REVELLION.—During the latter part of the year, 1714, the country was threatened with rebellion and “a general rising in arms,” to place James VIII, on the throne; much commotion; Dunfermline Fencibles in arms to defend King George, &c.  (Burgh Records.)

  THE EXCISE BILL.—Dunfermline strenuously opposed the proposed excise bill; great dissatisfaction and threatenings prevailed in Dunfermline.  (Burhg Records and Newspapers.)

  PROCLAMATION OF KING GEORGE I.—An old note states that King George I. was proclaimed in August this year by the Magistrates and Council at the Tolbooth Stair, at the Cross, and at the Gate of the East Port.  (Burgh Records.)  “A deal of drinking followed the ceremony.”  (MS.)

  1715.—MR. THOMAS BUCHANAN, MINISTER OF THE First Charge of Dunfermline Church, died on the 10th April, 1715.  (Dunf. Presb. Records.)

  “THE EXCISE BIL” BURNT BY THE HANGMAN.—in the Caledonian Mercury for 18th April, 1715, there is the following paragraph:--“We hear of strange doings at Dunfermline last Thursday, when the excise bill was burnt by the hands of the common hangman.”  (Edinburgh Courant: MSS., &c.)

  THREATENED INVASION—Powder and Shot Ordered.—“4 August, 1715:  The counsel, taking to their consideration the hazard this town may be in if the country turn loose by threatened invasion, and that it is very fit the town be provided in powder and lead; they therefore ordered baillie Wilsone and William Stevinson to buy one hundred pound weight of pouder, and six hundred pound weight of lead, as soon as possible.”  (Burgh Records.)  “23rd Sept.: The said day the counsel approved of the baillies their distributing the toun’s pouder and lead among such inhabitants as had arms.”  (Ibid.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—“1st Oct. 1715:  This day, Sir Peter Halket was re-elected Provost.  (Burgh Records.)

  THE REBELLION.—Surprisal of a Jacobite Detachment in Dunfermline.—Oct. 24, 1715:  The fortunes of war brought Dunfermline within the sphere of “war operations” in October, 1715.  Sir Walter Scott, in his “Tales of a Grandfather,” gives the following graphic account of the surprisal of a Jacobite detachment who had taken possession of the Palace and Monastic buildings:--

            “A detachment of about four score horse and three Highland foot—chiefly followers of the Marquis of Huntly—was sent from Perth to raise the Cess.  The direct road from Perth to Dunfermline is considerably shorter, but the troops had orders to take the route by Castle-Campbell, which prolonged the journey considerably, for no apparent purpose but to insult the Duke of Argyle’s garrison there by marching in their view.  When the detachment arrived at Dunfermline, Gordon of Glenbucket, who commanded the Highlanders, conducted them into the old Abbey, which is strongly situated, and there placed a sentinel.  He took up his own quarters in the town, and placed a sentinel there also.  The commander of the horse, Major Graham, took the ineffectual precaution of doing the same at the bridge, but used no further measures to avoid surprise.  The gentlemen of the squadron sought each his personal accommodation, with their usual neglect of discipline, neither knowing with accuracy where they were to dind their horses, nor fixing on any alarm-post where they were to rendezvous.  Their officers sat down to a bottle of wine.  During all this scene of confusion, the Honourable Colonel (afterwards Lord) Cathcart, was lying without the town, with a strong party of cavalry, and obtaining regular information from his spies within it.  About five o’clock on the m9orning of the 24th October, he entered the town with two parties of his dragoons—one mounted the other on foot.  The surprisal was complete, and the Jacobite cavaliers suffered in proportion; several were killed and wounded, and about twenty made prisoners, whose loss was the more felt as they were all gentlemen, and some of them considerable proprietors.  The assailants lost no time in their enterprise, and retreated as speedily as they entered.  The neighbourhood of the Highland infantry in the abbey was a stron reason for dispatch.  This slight affair seemed considerable in a war, which had been as yet so little marked by military incident.  The appearance of the prisoners at Stirling, and the list of their names, gave ‘eclat to the Duke of Argyle’s tactics, and threw disparagement on those of Mar.  On the other side, stories were circulated at Perth of the loss which Cathcart had sustained in the action, with rumours of men buried in the night, and horses returned to Stirling without their riders.  This account, however fabulous, was received with credit even by those who were engaged at Dunfermline; for the confusion having become general, no one knew what was the fate of his comrade.  But, in very deed, the whole return of casualties on Colonel Cathcart’s side amounted to a dragoon hurt in the cheek, and a horse wounded.  This little affair was made the subject of songs and pasquils in the army at Perth, which increased the Marquis of Huntly’s disgust at the enterprise,” &c.

  At this period, the Palace stood in ruins, and therefore could give no accommodation to this party.  The Abbey—that is, the Church—would not be “taken possession of”; the old buildings o the west side of the Church, forming the northern boundary of the Abbey Close, biz.,  the Queen’s House, the two Constabulary Houses, and the Pends, would be the houses in the old Abbey which were “taken possession of” on this occasion.  The bridge here alluded to would, no doubt, be the Tower-Burn Bridge, close by on the west.  It may be noted that the suck apartment, or cellar, down a few steps (south-east end of the Palace), was on this occasion used as a store-room, and into which were stowed gunpowder, shot, guns, and other war materials.  From this circumstance the cellar got the name of “The Magazine,” which name to this day it retains.

  1716.—THE AURORA BOREALIS.—An old account notifies that “the inhabitants of Dunfermline, as everywhere else, were taken by great surprise, and many by terror, at the sudden appearance in the north-east sky of meteoric flames (the aurora borealis, now so frequently seen), which occurred on the evening of March 6th.  Many of the pious portion of the lieges were in terror; many went out to the toon’s end (East Port Street, &c.) to get a better view of it.”  This grand meteoric display was everywhere long remembered.

  THE “LANTERN TOWER” OF THE ABBEY fell down early in 1716.  Traditionary accounts inform us that the Great Lantern or Central Tower, which stood at the junction of the Choir and the Nave, and which was “at least 150 feet in height, and about 30 feet square, and had two stories of three tall Gothic Lancet windows in it on all sides, or 24 windows in all, fell with a heavy fall early on a Sunday morning in April 1716.”  The area of the Old Choir had since 1560 been used as a place of interment, and was known as the Sythar or Psalter Kirkyard.  “The deep graves which were dug around the base of this Great Tower, in time loosened its foundations and at last caused it to fall.”  (For views of this tower, &c., see Annals, dates 1226, 1290, 1670 and 1672.)  With the fall of the Great Tower the most interesting and picturesque part of the ruin of the Old Choir disappeared.  It would appear that “it’s fall was long remembered in sadness by the inhabitants”—as Arnold says—

“Towers, temples, pyramids must fall,
And man, their builder, pass away:
Oblivion, soon thy shadowy pall
Shall shroud them from the eye of day.”

  MR. RALPH ERSKINE, minister of the Second Charge, was, on May 1st, 1716, admitted minister of the First Charge of Dunfermline Church.  (See An. Dunf. date 1711; Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 416; also An. of Dunf. date 1740.)

  REBELLION FAST.—“ A fast day was kept on 7th June for the suppression of the unnatural rebellion of the preceeding year.”  (Par. Records.)

  LOSS SUSTAINED BY DUNFERMLINE “through the Heeland Insurgents.”—“28th June, 1716:  The counsel appoints the baillies to writer to Buquhan to see if he can recover the money lost by the toun by the rebels, and the expence the toun has been at by the detachment of his Majesties forces that lay there.”  (Burgh Records.)

  ANCIENT SOCIETY OF GARDENERS IN DUNFERMLINE, &c.—There is no record, so far as is known, which gives an account of the origin of the Gardeners’ Society.  The earliest date in its oldest Record Book is 16th October, 1716.  This Society of Gardeners is supposed to be the oldest one in Scotland.  Its Charter begins:--“”Be it kend to all men by thir prnt letrs, we, John Daill Gairdiner in Pittencrieff pnt. deacon, John Campell gairdener in Pitfirrane pnt. boxmaster.  To the Gairdiners of the toun  and Presbytrie of Dunfermline.”  Then follows a long notice in praise of Gardenery, its great antiquity, &c., which is signed “Moray” and “Tweeddale.”  See the Gardeners’ Society Book, entitled;--“Laws of the Ancient Society of Gardenery in and about Dunfermline;”  for full particulars, see also Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. pp. 456, 457.  This Society has had as members I Duke; I Marquis; 6 Earls; 7 Lords; 8 Baronets and Knights; 2 Colonels; 6 Captains; 3 Lieutenants; 4 Ensigns; I Professor in a college; II Magistrates; 6 Ministers; 7 Advocates; 2 Writers to the Signet; 21 Doctors and Surgeons; 122 Gentlemen of Landed Property, with a long list of names of the worthy Burgesses of Dunfermline, &c.  (See Abridged Histories of the Gardeners’ Society, which have been frequently printed since this period.)

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—“8TH Oct., 1716:  This day the magistrates and grand counsel elected and continued Sir Peter Halket Provost.”  (Burgh Records.)

  1717.—MILITIAMAN FOR THE TOWN.—“13th March, 1717:  The said day John Bell, weaver in St Katharine’s  wynd was made burges, and engaged himself to serve the toun as a malitiaman—sic subst. j. B.; John Bell, his mark.”  (Burgh Records.)

  LITERATURE.—A small work, entitled “The Believer’s Dowry,” by the Rev. Ralph Erskine, minister of First Charge, Dunfermline Church, was published early in this year; this is supposed to be his first production.

  DEAN OF GUILD COURT—Harry Davidson Fined.—At a Dean of Guild Court, held on 20th June, “Hary Davidson, son to Hary Davidson of St. John Chapel [Chapelwell], appeared before the court to answer for encroaching on the privileges of the Gildry; and having referred himself to the Dean of Gild and Counsell, they fyned him in three pounds Scots, whereof the clerk got his third, the Fiscal and Gild Officer got each six shillings, is to be charged on Robert Paterson the Treasurer.”  (Guildry Records, 1717.)  This is a specimen of doing legal business in “the good old times.” 

  PROVOST OF DUNFERMLINE.—Sir Peter Halket, of Pitfirrane, elected Provost; 7th October, 1717.  (Burgh Records.)

  WEAVING.—At this period, “the devices woven on goods in the loom consisted, generally, of such emblems as the British flag, the British coat of arms, and the coat of arms of the nobility, gentlemen,” &c.”

  MASON’S LODGE.—“21st Nov., 1717: That day John Oberwhyte, son to Edward Oberwhyte, mason burgis of Dunfermline, wes entered apprentice to the sd Ludge by James Somerville younger, and gave his oath de fidely, and to obey the haill laws of the sd Ludge, and each St. Jons day to subscribe to ther bond of Scocietie.  The bill given be sd James Somerville for the rest of the sd Ludge.  Signed, James Somerville younger John Overwhyt.”  (Masons’ Register.)


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