Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Scotland in the Middle Ages
Chapter VIII - Early Dress and Manners

Early utensils — Cups of glass — Boats and galleys — Scotch pearls valued in the twelfth century — Costly horse trappings and armour — Early manufactures — Ancient herring fishery — Mines of gold, silver and iron, worked — Early trade — Riches of the burghs — Berwick — Cnut the Opulent — Munificence of the burgesses of Berwick and Roxburgh — Ship-building at Inverness in the thirteenth century — Coal worked — Merchandise — Commodities traded in, in the twelfth century — Duties of export and import — Customs of Scotch ports in the fourteenth century — Old burgher life — Magistrates — Merchants' ledger of the fifteenth century — Halyburton, a Scotch merchant settled at Middleburgh — His correspondents, persons of all ranks in Scotland, up to the Prince, Bishop of St. Andrews — Scotch goods consigned to him — Wool — Hides — Skins — Salmon — "Claith" — Returns in Wine — Malvoisie — Claret — Rhenish — Canvas — Fustian — Velvet — Damask — Satin — Spices — Roman Bulls of dispensation for marriage — Tayssillis — Soap — Rice — Sugar valans — Scroschats — Sugar lacrissie — Sugar candy — Feather beds — Candlesticks and hanging chandeliers — Pewter dishes — Dornyck — Table linens — Arras coverlets, pots, and pans — Ryssil broun (cloth) satin — Bugles, silk and gold thread (for embroidery) — Bear — Almonds — Raisins — Figs — Olives — Apple oranges — A signet of silver, and one of gold — The bishop's round seal and long seal — Silver chalices — Board cloths with towels and serviettes — Flanders cloths — Bonnets — Caps — An orloge mending — Raised work— A gown of ypres, black lined with say — Doublet of camlet — Pair of hose — Kist of iron work — Plate — A mat for the Bishop's chamber — Tiles for his chamber floor — Woad and Bryssell — Books of both laws — Review of Scotch trade.

From the ancient lives of the saints — our first authority as to the state of the country — we learn something of the dress and manners of the people of Scotland in the seventh and eighth centuries. We find they used chariots, that they manufactured swords and other weapons, — probably those articles of bronze now so commonly dug up, especially in the west of Scotland, — that they used cloaks of variegated colour, apparently of home manufacture, and fine linen, which must have been of foreign production. The bodies of the dead of high rank were wrapped in it.

In the churches there were bells, but only handbells probably, and very likely not often cast, but hammered and riveted, a kind of which we have one or two curious specimens remaining.

Adomnan mentions drinking-cups of glass as in use among the Picts. Ale was made at home, and wine, which must have been imported, was also used.

They had boats or coracles of leather on the rivers, and galleys built of oak, and carrying sail. Even in their leather boats they went to sea, and performed long voyages, at least from Ireland to Orkney. In their galleys, the missionaries of lona crossed the stormy and dangerous sea to the Shetlands and Iceland.

At a later time, we escape from the ideas of mere barbarism, in finding the pearls of Alexander I. [Angl. Sacr., II. 236.] (in the beginning of the twelfth century) much celebrated, and the object of envy to a church dignitary of England. The same magnificent monarch bestowed an estate on the church of St. Andrews, and along with it, as the symbol of possession according to a knightly fashion, an Arab horse, with its furniture of velvet, and a suit of Turkish armour. [Wynt, vol. I. p. 286.]

Befor the lordis all, the king
Gert than to the Awtare bring
Hys cumly sted of Araby,
Sadelyd and brydeled costlikly,
Covered with a faire mantelete
Of precious and fyne welvet,
Wyth his armwris of Turky,
That Princes than oysid generaly,
And chesid mast for thare delyte,
With scheld and spere of sylver quhwite,
With mony a precious fayre jowele.

Some of the privileges granted by King David I to his burghs bring us acquainted with a manufacture which must have been extensively carried on in several districts of Scotland, and perhaps in all its villages. This was the making of cloth, which we learn from the charters I formerly brought under your notice, was both dyed and shorn (tinctus ettonsus). We have, too, the trades of weavers, litslers, that is, dyers, and fullers, very early enumerated among the burgher classes — all, I think, pointing to a manufacture of our native wool into a cloth of somewhat higher quality than that fabric of wad (or wadmail), a coarse home-made cloth which formed a part of the rent of farms in Shetland and Orkney, and I believe all over Scandinavia.

Still, in the reign of David, and even in that time of prosperity of which his reign was the commencement, the native produce of our country, its ides and tallow, its wool and furs, was chiefly exported unmanufactured. It would be something did we find proofs in his reign that there were Scotchmen of enterprise and skill enough to trade to foreign countries; but the foundation of that assertion is scarcely sufficient.  It amounts only to an allowance of delay in actions in burgh, in cases where the party is abroad in parts beyond sea, in pilgrimage vel in negociis suis, which may, indeed, mean engaged in trade, but may evidently refer to any other occupation or affairs.

From better evidence we learn of an extensive herring fishery, and of the use of that fish as almost a staple article of food. Off the isle of May was a favourite fishing station, where the vessels of all the neighbouring nations met — English, Scotch, and Flemings. Thither the Abbot of Holyrood, in the reign of William the Lion, was in the habit of sending his own men to fish — a fact we learn from a charter of that king, granting them the common exemptions [S. Cruris, No. 28.] from distraint for the debts of others while so employed in their fishery.

The Abbey of Dunfermline had a specific grant from David I. of the tithe of the gold produced by Fife and Fothrev (the district surrounding Dunfermline). David had likewise a silver mine in Cumberland; and we have evidence of iron being dug and wrought in the thirteenth century in the forests of Moray. I gather something of the importance of the trade of the country, and of the revenue derived from the king's customs upon it, from occasional grants made by David I. and his successors, of freedom from custom. Thus he bestowed on Dunfermline — evidently as a considerable boon — the freedom from custom of one ship yearly, wherever it happened to land. It would seem almost certain, from another charter, that this was the abbot's own ship, which he manned for his foreign trade, as the Abbot of Holyrood employed his servants in the fishery of May. The extent of trade at an early period is farther shown from the large sum granted out of the custom duties of particular burghs. David gave to the Abbey of Holyrood an annual rent of 100 shillings from his customs of Perth, to be gowns for the canons, and that, says he, from the first ships which come to Perth for the sake of trade. He gave five marks for the same purpose to the monks of Dunfermline, exigible out of the customs of the first ships that came to Stirling or to Perth; and Cambuskenneth had a similar grant.

I have already shown you some indications of shipping carried on by several of the great religious houses. The Abbey of Scone had possessions in Caithness, and apparently found the communication by sea more convenient than that by land, which led through several disturbed districts. But in those northern waters the protection of the Scotch king was insufficient, and William the Lion wrote to the Norse Harold, the jarl of Caithness and Orkney, entreating his favour to the monks of Scone, and protection for their vessel in its northern voyages.

The progress of trade and the wealth derived from it are well marked in the proportion of a national tax borne by the burghs in the end of King William's reign. In 1209 a treaty was made between Scotland and England, partly concerning the marriage of William's two daughters and their dowers, partly for an abandonment by John of England of all right to the trade of Berwick, and his consent to the destruction of an objectionable fort of the Bishop of Durham's at Tweedmouth. We do not know on which of these grounds a payment was to be made by Scotland, but it is certain it amounted to 15,000 marks. Of that great sum the optimates (meaning, I presume, the barons and clergy) assessed themselves with 10,000 marks, and the burghs undertook for a contribution of 6000, or somewhat more than one-third of the whole burden of the country.

An English chronicler [W. Neubr., V. 23.] of the twelfth century, describes Berwick as a noble town belonging to the King of Scots. The Norse writers tell us it had at that time many ships and more foreign commerce than any other port in Scotland. An anecdote related by Torfaeus gives us a better impression of the merchants of Berwick and their wealth and enterprise, than any general description. A ship belonging to Cnut, who was commonly called the opulent, a citizen of Berwick, was taken at sea by Erlend, jarl of the Orkneys. On board the vessel captured was the merchant's wife, perhaps returning from a pilgrimage over sea. Instead of yielding to the panic which those northern pirates used to inspire, Cnut bestirred himself. He took from his well-filled coffers 100 marks of silver, and was able with that sum to hire fourteen ships, fully manned, with which he instantly gave chase to the pirate Earl, and (we may hope) rescued his ship and his lady wife.

At a later date, in the middle of the thirteenth century, the Chronicle of Lanercost describes Berwick as a city so populous and of such trade, that it might justly be called another Alexandria, whose riches were the sea, and the waters its walls. In those days, its citizens being most wealthy and devout, gave "noble alms;" and the chronicler goes on to instance some of their beneficences to the Church. A merchant of Gascony, to whom Alexander III. owed £2000 and upwards — a heavy wine account if you consider the relative value of money — was quite satisfied with an assignation to the customs of Berwick; and of the dowry of the widow of Prince Alexander (the son of Alexander III.) — amounting to 1500 marks a year — there were 1300 yearly made payable out of the customs of Berwick. If it were allowable to go into such details, it would he easy to show the considerable wealth of the burgher and trading class during the thirteenth century in Scotland, from an examination of their numerous gifts of property to the religious houses. I have been particularly struck by the munificence, in this way, of the merchants of Berwick and the burgesses of Roxburgh; the former, by the revolutions of the two kingdoms and of trade, now fallen into comparative insignificance; the latter, once so considerable as to be one of the four burghs of the burghal parliament, now scarcely to be traced by a few heaps of green turf marking the site of its castle and town walls.

We have an interesting fact connected with the other extremity of Scotland. In 1249 the Earl of St. Pol and Blois was preparing to accompany St. Louis (Louis IX.) of France, in his memorable expedition to the Holy Land. The most picturesque account is given of that ill-fated crusade by old Joinville, who, among other particulars, describes very minutely the ships used for carrying the horses of the men-at-arms, with an opening in the side of the vessel for the horses to enter, which was afterwards shut and caulked up for the voyage. Now Mathew Paris, [Page 771.] an intelligent and unsuspected testimony, informs us that one of these ships (navis miranda) was built for the Earl of St. Pol, a great French lord, in Scotland, at Inverness. A fact like this opens up a wide field for speculation. The place was probably chosen for the convenience of easy access to our Highland pine forests. But consider what various labour and skill were requisite for building and rigging this ship, the admiration of France! Even if we presume that the master builders were some of the cunning artists of Flanders or the more distant Marseilles or Genoa (for the armament was fitted out from all these ports), it almost sets conjecture at defiance, how the under workmen, the men of the axe and mallet, of the anvil and forge, were to be found in a Celtic village — how even the materials and conveniences necessary for such a work could be brought together without long preparation and too profuse expense, in a place like Inverness.

The earliest mention I have found of coal works in Scotland, is in a charter of 1291, granted by William de Oberwill, lord of Pettincrieff, to the monks of Dunfermline. The monks are to dig for coal wherever they choose, except arable land, but only for their own use, and not for sale.

This has usually been considered the earliest notice of the working of coal in Scotland. The words by no means give the impression of its being a recent discovery, and from the peculiarly exposed situation of the coal in some of our old coal-fields — about Preston and Tranent more especially — it can scarcely be supposed to have escaped notice so long, in a country where fuel was so necessary. [Sea-coal -  (carbones marini) were bought for the Castle of Berwick in 1265.— Comp. Camer. 43.] But the  introduction of coal is so important as regards the comfort of the people and the advancement of manufacture and the arts, that I wished to call your attention to an early authentic mention of it.

In the old MS. collections of laws already alluded to, is a capitular concerning the rate of custom duty to be taken at the ports of Scotland, which in most of them is described as settled at Newcastle by King David I. The oldest authority we have for this chapter now extant is the Ayr MS., written in the reign of Robert Bruce; but its antiquity is carried a good deal higher when we find that it coincides to a great degree with the customs established at Newcastle, and ascribed to the reign of Henry I. It seems not improbable that the ordinance was passed at Newcastle on Tyne, when that port was within the jurisdiction of David I., and that the tariff was at one time applicable to the ports of Northumberland, as we know it was long afterwards in Scotland. From that ordinance we gather the common exports and imports of the ancient trade of our country.

The first chapter is of Peloure or Peltry, and it is not without interest that in the enumeration of furs upon which duty was to be taken in exporting, along with the common skins of tod, whitret, mertrick, and cat, we have, specially mentioned in all the manuscripts, the skins of beaver and sable.

Corn, meal, salt, and malt, are taxed for export. Iron and madder or woald are common imports. Hides pay a small export duty. Deer skins and skins of hind calves somewhat more. A last of wool or ten sacks paid eightpence. A stone of litted (dyed) wool, a halfpenny; and there are rates for the exportation of wool skins, shorlings, hog skins, lamb skins, and goat and hare skins.

There are customs payable on the export of herrings, salmon, and our common sea fish — keling, ling, haddock, whiting, cod, oysters.

The chapter headed "Of Custom of Merchandise," enumerates the commodities of brasil, I presume a dye-stuff, wax, bales of pepper, cumming, alum, ginger, seatwell, almonds, rice, figs, raisins, "or other sic thing" — iron, lead and grease or oil.

Another section contains duties for kells which I take to be nets and thread for manufacturing them — linen thread of a different description, boards of timber, knives. Cordwain skins were admitted duty free, and also pans, cauldrons and brass pots.

The constant recurrence of teazel for dressing cloth, and of the dye-stuffs necessary for its manufacture, is worthy of notice.

There seems to have been no duty levied upon wine, and only a small charge for harbour dues.

The first year in which the extant accounts of the Great Chamberlain of Scotland enable us to form an accurate notion of the extent and proportion of the custom-duties of the ports of Scotland is 1329 — the year, you will observe, of the death of Robert Bruce.

The customs collected for the year 1369 present a very extraordinary increase as compared with the last year of Robert, which must be attributed, at least in part, to the excessive depreciation of the currency, and perhaps in some degree to the increased rates of custom.

The Chamberlain received that year, of customs from the burgh of Dunbar, a hundred and fourscore and seventeen pounds. The customs of Haddington yielded £873; Edinburgh, £3849; Linlithgow, £1403; Stirling, £106; Perth, £710; the city of St. Andrews, £172; Aberdeen, £1100; Dundee, £800; Montrose, £244; Elgin, £71; Inverness, £56; Ayr, £25.

These accounts of the Great Chamberlain give us, at least, some materials for estimating the extent of trade, and comparing that of the different ports. We learn even a few points of their internal government and affairs. But our fullest and most satisfactory information regarding burgh matters, and the old burgh life of Scotland, is derived from the fine series of records, still extant, of the burgh of Aberdeen, which commences in 1398, and embraces regulations for trade and the supply of provisions, judicial proceedings illustrating the state of police and manners, transactions between the great burgh and its Bishop and other country neighbours, and a multitude of occurrences exhibiting the whole system of the everyday life of the merchant and tradesman. You find in these records the magistrates in their ancient and proper position as the respected friends and fathers of the community, administering justice and enforcing police with great care and attention, and sufficient authority, asserting the rights of the burgh against overbearing lords, and looking zealously to its best interests; but not thwarting their townsmen in their harmless enjoyments and sports, and even joining their holiday pranks, and thinking it no shame to lead the revels.

A very interesting picture of trade and old burgh life might be composed from these records, but it would be somewhat out of place here; and the meritorious exertions of the Spalding Club have now placed a larger specimen of their contents within public reach than I could pretend to lay before you. I pass on to matter less generally accessible.

Every one who has worked upon a difficult subject of antiquities must have felt the longing-desire for access to the actual materials which men used at the period under investigation. What volumes of discussion would be saved if we could step at once into the guard-room where the Roman soldier changed his arms, or laid them aside for the toga! What infinite light has been shed upon ancient domestic life by the discoveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii — at Nineveh! In the same way, in speculating and guessing upon the manner of life of our forefathers, and especially upon their trade, I had often desired that in the loads of rubbish crowding our old charter-rooms there might be found some actual merchants' books, to show us how they traded of old, the commodities of export and import, the money, the banking, the exchange, the correspondence of the Scotch merchant four or five centuries ago. I considered myself very fortunate, then, when I lighted upon a fine antique ledger, which, though not going so far back as might be desired, is by far the oldest of actual merchants' books that has been preserved in Scotland. The owner of the book appears, from several entries, to have been Andrew Haliburton, a Scotch merchant, residing mostly at Middleburgh, but carrying on business at the fairs at Berri, Bruges, and Antwerp. He was evidently a person of consideration, since we find letters, accidentally left in his book, addressed to him as "Conservator of the privileges of the Scotch nation at Middleburgh;" and among his correspondents, who were mostly of Scotland, appear persons of all ranks, from the merchants of Dundee, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh, up to the Bishop of Aberdeen, the Prior of St. Andrews, and the Duke of Boss, the king's brother and Archbishop of St. Andrews. The dates in the ledger extend from 1493 to 1503.

Haliburton seems to have been for the most part a buyer and seller on commission, and he states his charges for commission in each account under the name of "my service." His accounts are kept in the most simple and intelligible manner, the one page giving credit for consignments of goods and the value or money produce of them, and the other showing purchases and expenses connected with transmitting goods from the Continent to his correspondent in Scotland. The Scotch exports were but little varied. Thus, in the year 1493, he received on consignment from Lawrence Tayllyefer, three sacks of white wool, which he sold to men of Tournay for thirty-one marks each, equivalent to £61: 18s. He received a sack of middling wool, which he sold for twenty-six marks, or £18: 1: 6. In return, he shipped for Scotland two butts of Malvoisie, which, with all charges, cost £13 :14s. In 1495, he received out of the Eagle, a ship which either belonged to him, or was a constant trader between Scotland and Flanders, on account of the same party, a sack of skins containing 465; and he enters as sold out of this hop, 306, for sixteen nobles the hundred, amounting to £14: 8s.; and the outshots were sold for £4. He received by the ship Cowasch, and out of the barque Douglas, certain sacks of forest wool, which he sold in Berri, and to a Hollander in Middleburgh. This forest wool seems to be what is elsewhere called white wool. The returns were made in canvas, potyngary, Claret wine and Rhenish vinegar, and a rundel, in which were packed the following commodities — a roll of canvas, three couple of fustian, a stek of velvet, costing 10s. 6d. the ell; a stek of damask, costing 5s. 6d.; a stek of satin, costing 6s. 8d.; three dozen pepper, costing nineteen pence a pound; two dozen ginger, costing seventeen pence the pound; two pound canell, at 4s. 8d. the pound; mace, costing 3s. 10d.; cloves, 3s.; galyga, costing 5s. 4d.; swenvel, 3s. a pound; notmogis, 2s. 2d.; saffron, 1s.

In an account for the year 1498 with Sir John Crawford, evidently a churchman, the discharge of our merchant consists of twenty ducats put into the bank of Cornelius Altonitz to be sent to Rome for the expedition of a bull of dispensation for Sir John Crawford; and of a "letter of change" for a balance of ten ducats required for the same purpose.

Several of his correspondents make voyages from Scotland to the Netherlands; and one of these, Robert Kind, has the following entry of a charge against him:— "3d January, 1493, Item, the same night that he passed to Calais I send Rowl after him with a bill to warn of the Lombard that was set to arrest him in Gralyn, the quhilk Rowl cost me five shillings. Paid to the barber's son to convey him by night, twelve gs. Item, given six gs. for drink silver to let them out of the ports of Bruges after ten hours in the night." This same Robert Rhind consigned various kinds of wool, namely forest wool, middling wool, brown wool, and lamb wool, and he took in exchange pipes of tayssillis, soap, spices, much as those I mentioned before, but some with unknown names; rice at 5s. 6d., I think, per pound; twelve pounds succer valans, costing six guldens the pound; twenty-four pounds scroschatis at five gs. the pound; succer lacrissye at eighteen gs. the pound; succer candy at twelve gs. In the same ship with these commodities were sent home to the Scotch correspondent in hard cash thirty-four ducats and salutis, price 6s. each; six ongers, price 62 gs.; in auld grots, 39s.

The first account with the Duke of Ross commences with £43 placed to his credit, for the produce of his teind salmon, with £55 of "free money" sent by Cornell Clais of Bruges. The returns sent the Duke to Scotland are, linen cloth at 6 guldens I the eln; 4 beds stuffed with feathers cost £4; other four of less cost £3; 12 cods, 24 shillings; 12 candlesticks, weighing 29 lb., each pound, cost 5 1/2 gs.; 3 great dozen of pewder veschall, with 3 chargeours weighing 354 lb., each pound cost 6 gs.; 28 ells of Dornvyk, 3 ell broad, 27 g. per ell; a dossyn of serviatis cost 9s.; 28 ells of towell, 8 gs. the ell. 3 Aras cowerlats, ilk 20 ell, cost £3. A bankvar cost 18 g. the ell, 16 ells long, sum, 24s. A dozen of cowssings cost 16 s.; 6 stekis say, 3 red and 3 gren, cost 23sh. the stek; 2 hingand candyllaris, one cost 12s. and t'other 15s. Another package of the same year contained an odd mixture — 10 potts, weighing 343 lb., at 33s. a cwt.; 7 ells of Ryssyll broun at 7s. the ell; 6 ells of blak sattyn, ilk ell cost 8s.; 3 ells cramysse satyn, ilk ell cost 17s.; 3 ells broun satin cramyssit, 14s.; 50 bowglis, ilk stek cost 14 g., sum, £2 : 18 : 4 g.

A certain "Andro Mowbray younger" sends a pak of claith which our merchant sells for him at 5s.. the dozen. We may hope this was cloth of Scotch manufacture, sent to compete with the weavers of Berry and Bruges ! for undoubtedly another Scotch correspondent sends by the constant trader, the Julyan, a pak of clayth which was sold actually in Bery for 6 guldens the dozen. The same exporter sent large quantities of skins, and got in return awms of Rhine wine and tons of Gascon claret (the latter cost £4 the ton), with 2 buts of Malwissy bought from Jan Bregandin for £12.

Another correspondent, Donald Crown, sent 10 ducats (each 5s. 8d.) to send to Rome for a dispensation betwix the Lord Gram and Archd. Edmeston's dochter; and Haliburton transacted the affair, remitting the money through the bank de Benny Cassyn, and receiving the dispensation through another banker, with whom he dealt in such remittances, Cornelius Altanite. The expense of the dispensation, and of bringing it from Rome with the exchange, was £17. The same Scotch agent required another dispensation for marriage between the Laird of Mowntgomry's son and Archibald of Edinistoune's daughter, which cost £16.

I notice a small shipment of "ber" for Scotland in 1497 (only £26 worth), chiefly to remark that it is almost the only transaction about corn of any kind to be found in the ledger.

A sack of skins contained several qualities that may be still known in trade. Out of 986 skins, 350 were lentynwar, 300 futfells. The shipper had in return for them, — besides ryssill, probably fine cloths, carefully distinguished as of the ald seil, or of the greit seal or new seal, and velvets, — 2 copis of rasynis, cost 5s. the cop., 4 copis of fegis, cost 20 g. the cop.

The second account of the Duke of Ross contains large remittances from Scotland in money, and a notice of their transmission to Rome. Haliburton paid the expenses of a messenger sent to Venice to my Lady of Burgundy on my Lord's errands. The last two items of the account are for a signet of silver weighing an ounce (4 ang.), the metal costing 6s., and the making 9s.; and a signet of gold, which had a stone in it, weighing one ounce and five ang., which cost, including the making, £3 :11: 8. We have afterwards the expenses of making of my lord's round seal, and for mending of my lord's long seal, and what appears to be the expense of the hewing of the Duke's grave-stone, with the sum paid for its "pattern."

Another correspondent was the Archdeacon of St. Andrews, who made his remittances chiefly in money, but sent occasionally a few sacks of wool and dakers of hides, barrels of salmon and trout; which required repacking and pickling at Middle-burgh, to the shame of the Scotch curer; and had his value in his own maintenance and expenses during a personal visit, in money sent to Rome for dispensations and for solliciting his affairs in the Roman court, puncheons of wine — claret costing 16s. the puncheon, and the following articles "packit in his kist at Bruges" — two pound of silk to browd with, cost £2: 4s.; half a pound of gold, cost £1: 4s.; a challice, half silver and copper owr-gilt, cost 24 shillings; a frontal of red say broderit, cost 18 shillings; twenty-four ell of bord claiths, cost 4 shillings the ell, with towels and serveats of the same.

My Lord of Aberdeen (the bishop) remitted, of course, in the commodities for which his city was renowned — barrels of salmon and trouts (which required no new pickling); lasts of salmon consisting of twelve barrels. The trout must have been, I presume, what we now call grilse; their price was 22 shillings a barrel, while salmon sold for 25s. The returns were made to him in cloths of Flanders, black bonnets, red caps, spices, with small quantities of almonds and rice, and there was sent to Rome, to Master Adam Elphinstone, seventy ducats through the bank de Altanite, and again sixty ducats more; ''item, paid for the mending of an oralage, and the case new, the whilk I send to my Lord with James Homyl, 3 shillings;" a counterfeit challice £1: 8s.; two silver challices, double overgilt, one weighing seventeen ounces, and costing one shilling and six gs each ounce. Then follow large sums remitted to Rome, including the expenses of expeding a dispensation to John Elphinston.

To the Archdeacon of St. Andrews, Haliburton sent challices of silver, and one of copper, with the cup only of silver; ten dozen of raisit work, the quhilk cost £1:10:6; a gown of ypre black lined with say, a doublet of black chamlet; a bonnet; a pair of hose — altogether costing £3:1s.; and sent him with Sanders of Lawder a little kist with iron-work, costing £1: 17s.; a few other small pieces of plate, and a mat to his chamber, twenty foot long, and as broad, costing seventeen shillings. In the year 1499, he sent him in a ship that passed to Etlyn, tyles for his chamber-floor, costing 16 shillings and 8 gs; a quantity of great pots and pans; a mortar and a holy water pot.

To Dean William Crawfurd, the merchant acknowledges sums of money which he left in his hands when he passed to Rome, and charges him with four pounds paid for a horse, and twelve shillings given him in his purse, at his parting off Middleburgh in December 1500.

The Abbot of Holyrood is charged for a kynkyn of olives and a corf of apple orangis, sent him by the command of Dean William.

John Smollet imported to Scotland woad for dying at £7 a ton, Bryssell, which I take to be the Brasil of the old custom tariff, and tassil at 14 shillings the pipe. But though thus evidently manufacturing and dying at home, and consigning to Middleburgh packs of his Scotch cloth (Scottis gray, Pabyllis quhit), he sends to Zealand his white cloth to be littit or dyed red, paying 4 guldens the ell, and re-importing it into Scotland.

Among the last entries in the book is a memorandum of a little kist sent to Mr. Richard Laws "in the whilk ther was 8 volomis contenand the course of baith the lawis, cost 28 guldyns."

Even such trifling entries made three hundred and fifty years ago, are interesting and not uninstructive. The exports of Scotch trade in the reign of James IV. seem to have been scarcely anything but the unmanufactured produce of our country — wool, skins, hides, and the salmon of our rivers. A little cloth of an inferior quality was indeed exported, and we may conclude the common cloths used at home were of home manufacture. But the finer cloths were imported from the Netherlands, as were the more expensive linens for the table. All the other luxuries, comforts and almost necessaries of life, from the velvet and satin, and rich cloths of Bruges to the pots and pans of Yetlin for our kitchens, were of foreign production. Salt appears a strange article of import in a country which has had salt pans from the earliest time of record. During those ten years at least, Scotland seems to have imported no corn, nor, indeed, is there proof of this country at any time depending much on foreign supplies of corn, though it has been so generally supposed that the population was excessive, and agriculture was undoubtedly imperfect. The shipping employed in this trade was, at least, partly Scotch. A good many ships are mentioned as belonging to merchants of Dundee and Aberdeen, and the names of some, as the Douglas, the Julian, the Eagle, sufficiently speak their country. The packing together, in a foreign port, of such miscellaneous wares, and in so small quantities, shows want of capital or enterprise in the home merchants, and we may conclude that the retail trade of Scotland in such expensive commodities was very limited. On the whole, the impression this ledger of the Conservator leaves, of the trade of Scotland is not favourable. It stands not quite midway between the time of the Alexanders and our own. It is but 250 years removed from the first bright era of national prosperity. It is 350 from the present. The state of trade, seen through its medium, contrasts painfully with the larger transactions, evident opulence, and trading enterprise of Scotland under the last Alexander, and under the vigorous and prosperous reign of Robert Bruce. But happily we can also compare it with later times, when no wind can blow that does not waft the manufacture of Scotland to the farthest ports of the globe, and our own shipping brings to our rough shores the products of every climate — of lands that were to our forefathers a mystery, or an eastern fable.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus