Every reader of Blind Harry’s "Wallace," and most
Glasgow folks, although they may not know that romantic national epic as a
whole, are at least aware of’ "The Battle of the High Street," in which
the Scottish hero defeated the warlike Bishop Beck and the valiant Percy.
They may also know the story of the
hero’s encounter with and slaying of Lord Percy’s convoy at Cathcart, in
retaliation for their violent outrage in seizing, during a time of truce,
the sumpter horse of the good old Sir Ranald Crawford, Sheriff of Ayr, and
uncle to Wallace, while he was on his way to Glasgow to attend a council
there with the English lords. This is one of the early feats of Wallace as
recorded by the Scottish minstrel, who fbrther tells that Wallace, with
his two companions Kerly and Grey, crossed the bridge of tree over the
Clyde at Stockwell by night, and made their way to Dumbarton or Lennox,
where Wallace was well received and aided by the Earl of Lennox.
Everyone born or living in Glasgow
from the olden time until now must have known StoekwelI Street, where,
until very recent times, stood the Ratten Well, with its impure waters.
The tradition, however, at least in
these modern days, is not so well known that this name arises out of the
following incident, namely, that after a skirmish at that place between
Wallace with a small party of Scots and the Southerns or English, the
latter being defeated, the bodies of the slain were cast into this well by
the victorious Scots, during which consignment Wallace is reported to have
exclaimed: "Stock it well! stock it well !" from which expression tlie
street received its name. So says tradition, at all events; and it was all
along alleged and believed that the bad quality of the water arose from
the putrefaction of the Englishmen’s dead bodies.