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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter XI


A VALUABLE source for the history of the Ancient Capital is the Town Council Records. They include many historic incidents and many illustrations of the civic administration of former days, while they undoubtedly throw a flood of light upon the social and political life of the town, and even upon not a few obscure points in our national history. It might almost be said that without these our local records would be poor indeed. The Ancient Capital, however, is not quite in that position. Notwithstanding these records its history otherwise is one of the most remarkable that is to be found. Its sieges and surrenders, its conspiracies, its rebellions, its ecclesiastical battles, and its startling record of crime, give it a position in our national history that is quite unique. We do not appear to have any Council Records before 1431. The first matter of paramount importance which occupied the attention of the Council at that time was the question of the right of burial in St John's Church. It would appear that an official agreement was concluded between the Abbot of the Monastery of Dunfermline and the Provost and Magistrates of Perth, dated 20th July, 1440 These we have fully referred to in Chapter IV. on St. John's Church. In 1421 a charter was granted by William, Lord Ruthven, disponing a common to the town (Burgh-muir). This was ratified in 1422 by his son John of Ruthven, and in 1458 confirmed by Patrick, Lord Ruthven. It is evident from this that the town acquired the Burghmuir from the Ruthven family, and have ever since held it It was used on many occasions as a place for the execution of criminals.

In 1469, Parliament, on account of the amenity of the burgh being yearly disturbed at elections by the noise and clamour of the multitude, ordained that no magistrate should sit longer than one year; that the old Council should choose the new; that they together should nominate a provost, bailies and dean of guild; each craft yearly electing one of their number to vote at the meeting. During the next half century we have no entry of any moment in the Council Records. Passing on to 1522, we find that the Sheriff of Perth at that period possessed much greater power than the Sheriffs of to-day; e.g., before Sheriff Chalmers and a jury of seventeen persons in the Court-house of Perth, Margaret Lockhart was convicted of stealing from John Ramsay's wife a silver bell, and for being a common thief, and was sentenced to be drowned under the water till she be dead. In the following year it was ordained that none of the Council nor deacons of crafts in future make private subscriptions at the instance of any person, unless the whole Council are convened, or the most part thereof, and the matter openly discussed. This was considered to be for the common good. On the same date it was ordained that salt was not to be sold by the merchants, but to be exclusively in the hands of the "Gild Brethren." This law was strictly observed.

Amongst the corporal punishments formerly in use, the pillory was frequently resorted to. It was erected near the foot of High Street, and was attached or fixed to a stone in the centre of the street, and surrounded by a flight of steps. On the top of these stood the culprit, with his arms tied with ropes, from which hung a halter by which the hangman led him. An iron hoop, which was fixed on the top of the pillar, was then fastened round his neck, and there he stood for an hour bareheaded, with a label on his breast in large characters stating his crime. On some occasions men and women were tied up together, and if the mob thought they deserved punishment they were pelted with rotten eggs.

that appears in the Records. In 1534 there was a great battle for the Provostship, and a singular coincidence occurred. Two factions were exercising authority in the burgh, and two Provosts were elected. The town was small at that date, and this event created great excitement Alexander Blair, one of the Provosts, appealed by petition to the Lords of Council and Session. Both Provosts were ordained to appear before the Lords, when the following deliverance was given :—

Anent the petition of Alexander Blair, Oliver Maxton being Provost, the old Council met and chose a new Council, and thereafter put the office of Provost on Alexander Blair against his will, but he accepted. Nevertheless, Alexander Lindsay, David Blunell, and Henry Malcolm chose John Donning to be Provost, to make division and strife among them to their great hurt Lindsay and his supporters raised summonses before Donning, and got Blair removed from the Provostship. The Lords decreed that Blair should enjoy his office of Provostship for the present year, Alexander Lindsay, Walter Bryson, Thomas Jamieson, Henry Malcolm, and James Piper to be bailies, Oliver Maxton and others named to form the Council.

Provost Blair was ordained to take the oaths of these, and cause them to be sworn in as usual; and so this remarkable election of two Provosts was adjusted.

The first business of the new magistrates was to execute a tack for five years in favour of William Anderson and spouse of a quarter of the Common Mills of the burgh in consideration of the sums advanced by them for behoof of the Provost and Magistrates. This seems a peculiar transaction, and not a little extraordinary, but we must remember that in those times there was no regular system of taxation. Shortly after this, in 1535, we have a characteristic entry. It was ordained by the Council that the best twelve persons, expert and famous men, should be chosen to sit weekly in the Tolbooth with the Provost and Magistrates, as assessors, every Tuesday and Thursday from nine to twelve for the common weal of the burgh, asserting the King's authority and for the administration of justice regarding all common actions. Each of these twelve burgesses was ordained to have a yearly fee paid to him by the treasurer; each burgess when absent to be paid no fee for absence, but his fee to be divided among those present We have no record as to how this scheme was carried out, or whether it was carried out at all, but it indicates that the office of Councillor at that date was no sinecure. The bookkeeping of the Council at that period was in a very primitive condition, so much so that the Council scarcely knew where they were or what was their financial condition. This came to the knowledge of the Edinburgh authorities, and we find that in August, 1535, the Provost and Magistrates were commanded to appear before the Lords of Council and Session at Edinburgh with their rent books and books of account, that it might be ascertained what was the amount of the common good of the burgh available, how the same was spent, and in whose hands it rested; so that the Lords might provide a way how it might be brought to supply the works of the burgh according to Act of Parliament Henry Malcolm and Henry Bryson, bailies, and John Bryson, treasurer, appeared in obedience to the command. They stated to the Court that their accounts had not that in those times there was no regular system of taxation. Shortly after this, in 1535, we have a characteristic entry. It was ordained by the Council that the best twelve persons, expert and famous men, should be chosen to sit weekly in the Tolbooth with the Provost and Magistrates, as assessors, every Tuesday and Thursday from nine to twelve for the common weal of the burgh, asserting the King's authority and for the administration of justice regarding all common actions. Each of these twelve burgesses was ordained to have a yearly fee paid to him by the treasurer; each burgess when absent to be paid no fee for absence, but his fee to be divided among those present We have no record as to how this scheme was carried out, or whether it was carried out at all, but it indicates that the office of Councillor at that date was no sinecure. The bookkeeping of the Council at that period was in a very primitive condition, so much so that the Council scarcely knew where they were or what was their financial condition. This came to the knowledge of the Edinburgh authorities, and we find that in August, 1535, the Provost and Magistrates were commanded to appear before the Lords of Council and Session at Edinburgh with their rent books and books of account, that it might be ascertained what was the amount of the common good of the burgh available, how the same was spent, and in whose hands it rested; so that the Lords might provide a way how it might be brought to supply the works of the burgh according to Act of Parliament Henry Malcolm and Henry Bryson, bailies, and John Bryson, treasurer, appeared in obedience to the command. They stated to the Court that their accounts had not Deacons of Crafts met, and had under consideration the exorbitant drink silver taken in the past by the bailies for the multures of the Common Mills. They ordained that in all time coming the bailies shall have but 20 per cent of the multures; the weigh-house 20 per cent.; of the small costumars each bailie 20 per cent., and the clerk the same; of the small multures 20 per cent. among the bailies, and 5 to the clerk,

In 1540 there was a remission to Thomas Blair of Balthayock, for treasonably abiding from the army at Solway; and in 1549 Thomas Blair and Thomas, his son, found security to underlie the law for the slaughter of Henry Dempster and six others. In 1562 Thomas, Alexander, William, and Patrick Blair of Balthayock, with forty-six others, found surety to appear for the slaughter of Alexander Kerr, burgess of Perth, and other crimes stated in the indictment The brevity with which these actions are recorded, and specially the absence of the reasons which led to such disgraceful conduct, render criticism impossible. [The first Blair of Balthayock was Patrick, son of David Blair, who swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296. He obtained a charter of the estate of Balthayock from the Superior, Nicholas Erskine, Lord of Kinnoul, in 1370.]

26th January, 1543.—Alexander Macbreck, Provost of the burgh, having authority from the Lord Governor to elect bailies and other officers, he with the advice of the Council and Deacons of Crafts chose Thomas Fleming to be Dean of Guild, Andrew Robertson bailie in place of Andrew Rhynd, Dean of Guild, and James Rhynd his brother one of the bailies, because for certain reasons the Lord Governor (James Hamilton, Earl of Arran) and Lords of Secret Council imprisoned the said dean and bailie.

15th April, 1544.—Maty (Regent) to the Sheriffs of Perth, Forfar and Fife and the Provosts and bailies of Perth and Dundee:—We are informed that Thomas Charteris of Kinfauns, John Charteris of Cuthilgourdie and their accomplices to the number of eighty persons are denounced rebels and put to the horn for divers crimes committed by them also for raising troubles and seditions within these Sheriffdoms. We charge you to pursue and apprehend the said rebels and bring them to law, to seize the houses where they are and to raise fire if necessary ; and if any are slain you shall incur no danger. They are to be punished with all rigour as an example to others.

In 1546 the Council required an obligation from William, Lord Ruthven, Provost, that he would not come within the loft house where the common chest lies, nor touch the writings therein during that year. What the reason was for requiring this curious obligation is not recorded. The following year sentence was pronounced by John Spittal, official of St. Andrews, annulling the marriage of Margaret Ross, daughter of John Ross of Craigie, and Andrew Murray, son and heir apparent of David Murray of Balvaird, they being within the fourth degree of consanguinity. This is a question that was carefully watched in those times, particularly if it involved property rights.

William, Lord Ruthven, was appointed Provost by the Regent in 1551. The Council took a protest against this, and requested that it be not a precedent Great dissatisfaction was felt at the election and at the Regent's interference. At this period, and for long after, the King claimed the right of electing the Provost of Perth—a right which was frequently resented by the Council. During the time the King exercised this prerogative, the office was usually held by a county gentleman. From the antiquity and importance of Perth, and its being the ancient capital of the kingdom, the King evidently exercised control over all municipal elections. In the same year the Deacons of Crafts resolved that all deacons should be present, and vote for the election of Provost and Magistrates, so that the same should be protected; the elections and vote of three principal deacons allenarly given at the time not to be prejudicial to the remanent deacons in time to come In 1554, there was an act by the Magistrates and Council and Deacons of Crafts nominating Patrick, Lord Ruthven, to be Provost of Perth for the space of seven years ; they to renew the same yearly at Michaelmas during that period, and that in consideration of his former good services and zeal for the welfare of the burgh. This is the Lord Ruthven who was one of Riccio's murderers. He had evidently rendered good service to the town when the Council gave him a lease of the Provostship for seven years, although we have no details, excepting that in 1547, when Master of Ruthven, he was elected Provost It was his father who was Provost in 1551. In the election of deacons the Regent, in 1555, ordained that none be chosen in future, "but that the Magistrates and Council will choose the most honest craftsmen"; these were to be designated visitors of their craft, and to be elected yearly at Michaelmas by the Council; they were also to visit the craft truly and loyally without power to assemble them, or to have any private communication or making of statutes. All craftsmen in future were to be under the Magistrates and Council No craftsman was allowed to accept office without the burgh except two chosen by the Council, and these two were to be part of the yearly auditors of the accounts of the common good. This radical change in the local government of the burgh was ratified by Parliament on 10th June, 1555, and the reasons which brought about the change are plainly stated:—

It has been understood by the Queen Regent and Parliament that Deacons and Craftsmen have been dangerous, and as they have used themselves in time past by gains have caused trouble and rising of the Queen's lieges in various places, as also by the making of leagues and bands among themselves and between burgh and burgh, all which deserves punishment

From this Act of Parliament it seems a fair deduction that the Craftsmen themselves brought about this abolition of the Craft as a local authority. The Regent ordered that no deacons be chosen in future. Whatever may have been its effect on the burgh, it is evident it made the Town Council a more influential and independent body. The population of the town at that period is recorded as 6,075.

In 1560, after the Reformation riots, there was executed a renunciation by Colin Campbell of Glenorchy in favour of Patrick, Lord Ruthven, and the Town Council of Perth, of the Blackfriars lands and others adjacent to the burgh, and that "in consideration of the sum of 400 merks money of the realm to be paid betwixt this and Fastens 'een next and containing obligations by the Provost and others for payment of the same." This with Spartan brevity is the close of a great transaction. These lands were pretty extensive, and worth a considerable sum of money, and if the town acquired them at the nominal sum of 400 merks, the lands were practically seized by the town as forfeited at the Reformation.

In municipal matters very lawless proceedings were going on in Perth regarding the persistent interference of the Crown authorities. The matter will be understood from the following entry in the Privy Council Register. Though this is as a rule an authentic source of information, it cannot always be relied on as thoroughly accurate, vide reign of Mary 1560-67. This was due to the corruption of the Court and the reckless way in which the Register was kept:—

ELECTION OF MAGISTRATES BY THE QUEEN.

DUNBAR, 2nd April.—Understanding the furtherance and advancement of her Majesty's service and common weill of the Burgh of Perth, her Majesty lately directed letters for the election of William, Lord Ruthven as Provost thereof, and certain inhabitants as Bailie, Treasurer, Dean of Guild, and Clerk of the said burgh. On the 23rd April the Council, Deacons of Crafts, and most part of the community, convened in the Tolbooth thereof, and elected William, Lord Ruthven, Provost; Patrick Murray of Tibbermore, Thomas and Alexander Monypenny, Robert Patullo, James Moncrieff, Oliver Peebles, Andrew White, Alexander Gibson, William Cook, Walter Piper, Andrew Mercer and Patrick Justice, Councillors; and John Murray, John Anderson, junior, William Fleming and George Johnston, bailies; Alexander Oliphant, Dean of Guild; James Hepburn, Treasurer, until the feast of Michaelmas next; and Sir Henry Elder, Common Clerk for his lifetime conform to his former election. Certain factious and seditious persons, indwellers of the burgh, not only opposed the election, but created troubles that day, and continuing in their perverse condition, not only intending to upset the said election by raising proceedings before the Lords of Session, but also by stirring up parties within the burgh to the annoyance of the inhabitants and to common weill of the realm. Therefore her Majesty ordains letters to be directed charging William Tyrie, Andrew Ramsay, John Maxton, Thomas Fenton, John Ogston, John Strathmiglo, Robert Chapman, Adam Blackwood to obey the command of the said letters in electing Lord Ruthven, Provost, and the other persons above named; or otherwise pass and enter themselves in ward within the Castle of Dumbarton, there to remain at their own expense until freed by her Majesty, under pain of rebellion and putting of them to the horn; and if that fails, to denounce the disobeyers to the horn, and to escheat, etc, and that within three days after the charge, and that the Secretary and his deputes keepers of the signet pass letters for their retention in ward within the said Castle; and also to command and charge the said William Fleming, George Johnstoun, John Anderson, junior, to accept the office of bailie; James Hepburn the office of treasurer, and Alexander Oliphant the office of Dean of Guild, and to give their oath for the due administration of their office until the feast of Michaelmas, within three hours after they be charged thereto. If that fails, the rebels to be denounced and put to the horn. And further to charge Sir Walter Ramsay, pretended Court clerk of said burgh, to deliver the town's books, court books, and scrolls retained by him at the said feast of Michaelmas last, together with the court books and scrolls made and used by him since the said feast And the said Andrew Ramsay to deliver to the said Alexander Oliphant, Dean of Guild, the guild book and the persons aforesaid and others whose names shall be given in the roll to deliver to the Dean of Guild the keys of the vestry with the keys of the charter chest, and of all common houses of said burgh, with the common seal of the same within three hours next after the said Sir Walter, Andrew Ramsay and other persons above named be charged thereto, under the pain of rebellion, and putting disobeyers to the horn. And because her Majesty is credibly informed that the said dis-obedients and others their companions have made a league among themselves to resist the Provost and bailies chosen by her Majesty's command tending to continual controversy within the burgh, contrary to the tenor of the acts of Parliament and that the bond is in the hands of Patrick Maxton, notary, knows the contents of the same. Therefore to charge Patrick Maxton to present the said bond or copy thereof, personally before her Majesty and Council, to answer upon the points and heads thereof, and such other things as shall be laid to his charge, within three days next after the charge under pain of rebellion, and if he fails, to put him to the horn, and escheat, etc.

The accuracy of this extract from the official Register it will be necessary to call in question. The Queen was not at Dunbar on the 2nd April, 1567, but in Edinburgh, and on the 23rd April she was seized by Bothwell, and carried a prisoner to Dunbar. In these circumstances she could have taken no part whatever in the excited condition of Perth, or in framing the ordinance we have reproduced. Her Privy Council was composed of men who were notoriously corrupt, and the Privy Council Register during her reign may be put aside as quite unreliable. This document, therefore, which must be regarded with suspicion, was evidently drawn up by these men without the knowledge of the Queen, and by them forwarded to Perth.

Among the rules that were strictly observed at Queen Mary's Privy Council meetings was the following: To ensure secrecy and prevent interruption, the macer stood outside the door and allowed no one to enter. If any nobleman or gentleman came to the door and desired admission, the macer knocked at the door, and one of the Clerks of Council would hear what was desired, and announce the same to the Lords. Thereafter the person would get admission if he had any matter to propose. Silence was observed among the Lords till the speaker concluded, and he thereafter retired.

In the municipal election of 1572, there was evidently some local question which raised discord among the merchants and craftsmen. The election was appealed to the King, as these could not agree. The record states that there was great tumult and uproar among the people. The King, it would appear, ordained that last year's Council should meet in the Tolbooth and elect and choose the following persons to be the Council for the ensuing year. (Here follows a complete list, beginning with William, Lord Ruthven, Provost.) The said persons were ordered by the King to accept office. Intimation of this election was ordered to be given them within three hours thereafter. If any wilfully absented themselves, the Provost and Treasurer were ordered by the King to nominate others in their place. In 1574, the first municipal election under Protestant influences is recorded, when the following were elected: William, Lord Ruthven, Provost; John Anderson, senior, Henry Addison, Dionysius Conqueror, and George Johnston, bailies; Oliver Peebles, dean of guild, Thomas Monypenny, treasurer (and list of Councillors). All were sworn, and professed the true religion of Jesus Christ, renouncing all idolatry and superstitions and popish errors whatsoever, and acknowledging James VI. as King. Assuming the accuracy of this entry, it would appear that notwithstanding the destruction of the monasteries in 1559, the question of Popery did not turn up as a factor at the election until 1574. This seems extraordinary, but doubtless the Council Record is right In 1580 Greyfriars was authorised by the Town Council as a burying-ground for the community. In the same year there was an agreement between the Council and Provost, Lord Ruthven, that the Provost of Methven's vennel at the east end of South Street be given up to Provost Ruthven, and his lordship in lieu thereof undertook to make another vennel leading to the river, of ten feet wide. This agreement was recorded in the Red Book of Perth. The King, having been informed that the Magistrates and Town Council repaired to Ruthven Castle on his detention, at the Raid of Ruthven, by command of Charles Geddes, lieutenant of the guard to the King, in an official communication, dated Falkland Palace, September, 1584, thanked the Provost, Magistrates, and Council, and inhabitants generally for repairing in arms to Ruthven immediately after the said treasonable act, and keeping watch there. " They have done the duty of good, true, and faithful subjects; services tending to the security of the King's person and estate, and meriting good recompense and reward." The King promised to gratify them therefor as soon as an opportunity offered. This incident of the Magistrates and Council appearing in arms at the Raid of Ruthven is not mentioned by any historian. In our local annals the Raid of Ruthven is an event of considerable moment, though still wrapt in mystery. It was carried out by the Provost of Perth, William Lord Ruthven, the Earl of Mar and their supporters, and resulted in Ruthven seizing the King and keeping him a prisoner at Ruthven and Stirling Castles for ten months, for which crime Ruthven was afterwards beheaded. On which side did the Magistrates and Council range themselves when they appeared at this remarkable scene in arms? It seems evident from the King's letter that they opposed their Provost and took the part of the King, assuming the statement to be true that they were present It is to be regretted that in connection with this event the attitude of the Magistrates and Council should not have been clearly defined and placed beyond doubt. This William, Lord Ruthven, first Earl of Gowrie, was the most cruel and despotic member of the House of Ruthven, and fully merited his doom, the extreme penalty of the law.

The next event of importance in the Town Council is the expulsion of the Town Clerk by physical force. Archibald Blinsell was Town Clerk in 1586. What length of time he held office is not recorded, or whether he discharged his duties satisfactorily, but it is evident before he had done with the office that he had a rough time of it, as we find from the following entry:—"Decree of absolvitor in favour of John Maxton, George Johnston, and others, in the action against them by Archibald Blinsell, burgess, for depriving him of his office of clerkship of said burgh, and for dragging him out of the middle door of the Tolbooth." This entry is not without a touch of humour. Maxton and Johnston were not Magistrates, but were evidently Councillors. Johnston was elected Treasurer in 1587. Whatever were the Town Clerk's faults, these men were wrong to remove him forcibly from the office by dragging him out of the middle door of the Tolbooth. The incident must have afforded amusement at the time, and it is unfortunate we have no details. It was doubtless the result of a stormy debate in the Council Chamber. In this year of grace 1903 we do these things differently! The following year the Council was again in the throes of an excited election, and the King had to interpose his authority. In the first stage of the matter the Council refused to listen to any command of the King, and proceeded to the election of such persons as were factious, and who intended to apply the common good of the burgh to their own private use, for which they had already been summoned to the Privy Council These men were—James Hepburn, Provost; Alexander Oliphant, Patrick Blair, James Adamson, William Hall, bailies. The King said: "They have done manifest wrong, and have disregarded authority; the leaders have been consigned to the castle of Blackness, where they presently remain. We hereby annul the election, and discharge the persons elected from accepting office. We command the Magistrates, Council, Deacons of Crafts, and others having weight in the burgh, to convene and elect the following Councillors—James, Earl of Gowrie, to be Provost (Here follows the list of names.) If they fail, they are to be denounced as rebels, and put to the horn." This communication is dated Holyrood, 16th October, 1587. Young Gowrie died while he was Provost, and John, Earl of Atholl, succeeded him. The nomination of the Councillors by the King we should think an extraordinary occurrence, but it was evidently not so considered in the reign of James VI. Some time after this election, and when the excitement had died away, the town had under consideration a financial question—the grazing of the Inches. It was dealt with in a different way from what now holds good. A tack had been recorded in 1592 by the Provost and Magistrates to David Rhynd, flesher, of the grass of the North and South Inches, for the space of five years, for the sum of 1200 merks Scots. There was also a tack by the Provost and Magistrates to Andrew Malcolm, baker, setting forth that for the relief of the poorer inhabitants of the burgh the composition to be collected by them and paid to Robert Bruce of Clackmannan, for attacking him in a warlike manner at Gasconhall in August, 1592, it had been thought expedient that the mails or multures of three-fourths of the Common Mills of the burgh be uplifted beforehand for a period of three years. Therefore they let to Andrew Malcolm the eighteenth part of the mills in consideration of 372 4s. 5d. money of Scotland. This transaction will be better understood by referring to Chapter XIII., where is recorded an extraordinary midnight outrage, committed by the Magistrates and Council on Robert Bruce and his family at the house of Gasconhall, adjacent to the village of Rait

The removal of the Scottish Capital to Edinburgh in the fifteenth century raised the question of the official position of Perth in the Council of Royal Burghs. This was settled by a decree of James VI., 30th May, 1594, as follows:—

To the Earl Marischal,—It is our will, and we command you that the place of Perth is the second place next to our Burgh of Edinburgh during the whole time of this Parliament, and in time coming that they may have the priority—first rank, place, and vote before the Commissioners of Dundee, according to their antiquity as they will answer to us. James R.

The order of the burghs in the Roll of the Convention now stands—Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Stirling, Linlithgow, St Andrews, Glasgow and Ayr.

One of these atrocious events that manifests more than anything else the lawless spirit of the times occurred evidently on the streets of Perth on 10th April, 1598. The Council record is conspicuous by its brevity and the total absence of details. The event was the assassination of Henry Adamson, Dean of Guild, who is reported to have been slain by Thomas Peebles. For this crime Peebles was hanged at the Mercat Cross of Perth on 30th May thereafter. There had evidently been a deadly feud between these unfortunate men, and some details might have been given.

The following communication (condensed) was addressed by James VI. to the Provost and Magistrates:—

Having proof of your loyalty and affection, we have no desire for any change at the approaching election, and therefore desire you with such of your neighbours as have a vote in the election of magistrates to continue in your respective offices whereby we may have further testimony of your good will, honest duties and service, so we commit you to God.

James R.

Brechin, 7th September, 1600.

This was a month after the Gowrie Conspiracy, when the attention of the King ought to have been occupied by much more serious matters than a municipal election if, according to his own narrative, he was the victim. The Dean of Guild in 1601 was ordered to convene the Guildry to inquire if they knew the author of the infamous libel against William Cowper, minister, and Henry Elder, clerk, calling them "sair sancts to this puir toon." The Guildry replied in the negative, but Henry Balneaves Deacon of the Fleshers, and William Jacob, burgess, two well-known public men, confessed they were the authors. Cowper, though a minister, was an unprincipled man, and at the Gowrie Conspiracy made himself notorious by his false evidence.

On the 13th April, 1601, the King, as already stated (p. 78), visited Perth and was made a burgess at the Mercat Cross. The Town Council ordered eight puncheons of wine to be set there, in order that the community might joyfully entertain the King on such an auspicious occasion. The King entered heartily into the rejoicings, accepted the banquet, drank freely of the wine, and thereafter inscribed his name in the Guildry Book.

In the same year the Deacon of the Bakers was censured for accusing the Provost and Council of partiality. Censure was also passed on James Corbie for imprisoning the Dean of Guild, the former being fined in a sum given to the Brig o' Tay. The Council resolved to meet after prayers to audit the treasurer's accounts. Absentees to pay ten shillings. Orders were given to send the officer round the town to warn all idle vagabonds to go furth of the town, and the ports to be shut every night at the ten hours' bell In the following year orders were given to the bailies to put a lock on the Lords' Seat (St. John's), and to suffer no scholars to sit thereon, but only gentlemen. Thomas Cochrane was instructed to prepare his house and a supper against His Majesty's coming, and if the Master of the Household pays him not, the Council is to do so.

The Council, in 1603, gave orders to pay spice and wine to the Sheriff on the occasion of His Majesty being proclaimed King of England. Dionysius Conqueror was ordered to be put in ward until he pay 12 unpaid in the treasurer's accounts. The former was a prominent citizen, and the sum owing was doubtless arrears of taxes. The Council ordered the drum to be sent round to intimate, in the King's name, that the inhabitants were prohibited from sheltering anyone of the surname of Macgregor, as they were denounced rebels; further, to prohibit any one from going to Kinross market without a license. The authority of the Council was supreme, and any disregard of their order, however arbitrary, would have been a serious matter for the offenders. We happily live in an age of civil and religious liberty, when the local government of a municipality of 30,000 is simplicity itself compared with the government of 6,000 in that period, with its feudal laws, its barbarous customs, and its despotic rule. Liberty was restricted, punishment unrestricted: life from some points of view was scarcely worth living.

On 10th November following the Council let by public roup the customs of the Highgate, Castle Gable, Brig o' Tay, and South and North Ports, timber market, flesh and fish boards, fishings, Black-friars Croft, and the four Common Mills, and in the same year the King issued a curious proclamation, prohibiting the eating of flesh on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On 5th March, 1604, a decree was issued fining certain persons for employing other mills for storing and grinding grain than those of the town. In the same year the Council gave orders to send a boy to Edinburgh, with a 6 piece to William Oliphant and a crown to Oliver Colt for defending the action against John Malcolm. On 14th May following they gave an order to set up three gibbets, viz., one at the Brig o' Tay Port, one at the South Port, and one at the North Inch Port This seems a most extraordinary arrangement No doubt executions were common, but one set of gallows was surely sufficient for the executions recorded. On 12th June order was given to appoint a watch at the Monkstower; one between South and Highgate Ports, where the walls were broken, and another between Dionysius Conqueror's yard and the Castle Gable Port Some months after the Council granted an order to give Patrick Galloway (minister), on the occasion of the marriage of his daughter, two puncheons of wine, one white, the other claret, and fifty merks to be laid out in such confections wet and dry as should serve for the occasion, on account of his many good offices to the town. We commend this good old social custom to the Town Council of to-day. On the same date the Council ordered Thomas Ferguson, saddler, and his man to be put in ward for cuffing David Muckersie, and hurting him on the hand and head, until they pay 15. Midsummer Fair was ordained to be held at the usual time, the craftsmen to be in armour to go round the town, and the Council and the rest of honest men to accompany them. The Council at same time ordered the timber brig at the head of the South Inch to be taken down, and not to be replaced. A supper was authorised on the occasion of the welcome home of Sir George Hume, now Earl of Dunbar, the same to be in Agnes Robertson's house. The Council further ordained that no person within the burgh or suburbs go to any other town without a license, and that the inhabitants receive no stranger in their houses, under a penalty of 40 Scots and banishment from the town.

It was also ordained to give John Bennet, carter, 20 to help him to buy a horse, he to lead stones to the brig till same be repaid: the Dean of Guild to purchase new Bibles of the best form and largest print for the reader to be used during Divine Service, the Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, a great volume, price 7. The Council in 1611 resolved to give William Cowper, minister, two puncheons of wine for his bridal, two dozen boxes of fruit, and a loaf of sugar. The following year orders were given to put in ward Gabriel Mercer and John Home his cautioner, till they pay the duty of the muir. This putting in ward was a common occurrence. It was ordered also to put Andrew Donaldson, skinner, in ward till he make free the common passage of the Castle Gable Port Andrew evidently had property rights there which he declined to relinquish. John Ogilvie, tinker, was put into the thief's hole at the instance of Gabriel Mercer until he prevented his own wife from selling his goods and gear. In 1615 there was an obligation by John Scott, flesher, not to disobey the magistrates in future under pain of banishment from the town. The following year James Niven was ordered to be scourged because he feigned himself a cripple on his feet for these ten years. There was also produced a missive by the Secret Council for providing fed beef in view of his Majesty coming to town. The Town Council in 1617 authorised the treasurer to send wild geese and moor fowl to James Windham, agent for the burghs, for his daughter's marriage, in such measure as he thinks expedient Early the following year there was a proclamation of the King for a General Assembly to be held at Perth on 25th August The Act prohibiting the inhabitants from being out of their houses after 10 p.m., except on lawful affairs, under a penalty of 10, having been often contravened, and the contraveners stating that they knew not the hour, the Council ordained that the great bell be tolled nightly at ten o'clock that in future none pretend ignorance. In 1613 the four mills, the Inches and fishings, belonging to the town were let to tacksmen, merchants, and craftsmen for nineteen years for defraying 40,000 merks of debt

This year the King, James VI., who was now resident in London, decided to visit Perth, and the most elaborate arrangements appear to have been made for his reception. The most amusing thing was the speech to be made by the Provost, David, Lord Scone, or someone appointed by him, on the King's arrival. He received the following instructions from the Court:—

He was in name of the town to make his Majesty welcome and then in sensible and good language set forth his praises for innumerable comforts and blessings which the country has enjoyed both in its Kirk and police under his Majesty's most happy government ; and lastly go as far as modesty will permit He shall speak to the praise of the town both as to the antiquity thereof, the services done by the same to the Crown and Estates, the willingness of the inhabitants by their best endeavour to serve His Majesty in all and everything possible, and the constant and firm resolution of the town to continue in all dutiful obedience to His Majesty and his Royal progeny and successors in all time coming. This being the substance of the proposed speech, you shall cause it to be delivered in the best form that may be, and remitting same to your own grave consideration in a point highly important to the credit of your town. We commit you to God. This document was signed by the Chancellor Binning, George Hay, and Balfour of Burleigh.

This oration, as afterwards appears, was entrusted to John Stewart, merchant, who framed and delivered the address to suit the vanity of the King conform to the humorous instructions of the Lord Chancellor. In view of this visit of the King, the Council ordered the skinners to provide for a sword dance, the baxters or bakers the Egyptian dance, and the schoolmaster and bairns a good dance to His Majesty. For this dance the skinners were paid 40.

The Council had a great weakness for marriage presents, for we find that at a meeting on 14th July, 1617, there was an entry as to sums owing by the Dean of Guild, and 50 merks granted by the Council to help his marriage, conform to use and wont In the matter of gowns for the Magistrates, there was a ratification of the act for fining those who have not gowns who were ordered to have them, in the sum of 40, and an order was given to the Magistrates to wear gowns in future. The Council in 1619 issued an order to ring the Council Bell the third time every Monday during winter, and to fine absent Councillors, as therein mentioned The Dean of Guild in 1620 was nominated to be Moderator of Council. This was evidently an office for the convenience of the Provost, Sir David Murray, who could seldom attend the Council meetings. On 21st February, the Council, who were evidently very short of money, and who were responsible for the minister's stipend, gave orders to borrow money in order to pay this. From Martinmas to 30th January, 1624, there was such a keen frost that the like of it had not been seen for many a day. There was a passage over the Tay on the ice. It is recorded that amongst the traffic carried on were eleven boats with twenty-one puncheons of wine which came over the ice from Dundee. From this date there are several uneventful years, and passing on to 1631, we find on 25th April of that year, five honest men's wives having compeared, it was laid to their charge that during the afternoon service they had drank aqua vita very extraordinarily. The women of Perth at that period frequently had gossiping clubs for their social amusement in the evenings.

In 1633 the Council issued an edict prohibiting women from wearing plaids during the visit of Charles I. They also made an allowance of 200 merks to the two boys who made the speech to the King and gentry. The sword dance was performed by the skinners on a raft in the water opposite the Chancellors' Yard, before His Majesty and George, Earl of KinnoulL The speech of the two boys was composed by Andrew Wilson. The Council in 1635 resolved to "burn vagabonds and idle beggars on the cheek." Candlemakers and brewers of aqua vita were to have their works in the most remote back parts of the town. An order was given that all the inhabitants between sixteen and sixty must appear on the North Inch in arms to attend the magistrates and their captain on the following Wednesday at 10 a.m. It is a curious fact that there are no Council Records from 1641-1652.

On 15th May, 1641, we have a somewhat humorous case recorded: "There was decreet in an action by John Anderson! burgess, against John Pitcairn, one of the magistrates, bearing that Anderson had first sued Pitcairn before the Magistrates, but that they had always postponed their decision. A process was therefore raised before the Commissary at St Andrews, on which Pitcairn on the Sabbath day and at a time of a solemn feast caused three officers to seize Anderson when coming out of the kirk, and put him in prison. The Lords of Session, on the case coming before them, gave decreet absolving Pitcairn."

When a vacancy occurred in the Church, the Council, who were the patrons, approached the Presbytery by petition. The negotiations on the subject are interesting. The following is a specimen of one of these petitions, and it will afford an insight into the practice of these days in the matter of the calling or translation of a minister:

Supplication by the Provost, Bailies, and Town Council of Perth to the right reverend the Moderator and reverend brethren of the Presbytery of Perth showeth:— That whereas the place of minister being long vacant through the removal of our late pastor, whom through your wisdom has been put to much trouble and pain by the various and oft renewed debates betwixt us on the part of our session. Now at last we have unanimously fallen on the choice of William Colville, and according to our interest have issued a call for that end either upon knowledge and certain information of the man's singular and godly conversation and ability to deliver the word of truth aright to us. And therefore we have ordained our well beloved friends the members of the Council—Andrew Butter, Provost, the Dean of Guild, the Deacon Convener, the Deacon of the Glovers, to attend your meeting to-morrow, and to present this our call to your wisdom, earnestly entreating you will concur and assist us to get Mr. Colville to be our minister. And for that end that you appoint one of your number to go along with our commissioners to signify your wisdom to receive him as one of your ministers and that without further delay; feeling delays have already been numerous and are very dangerous in the nick of time. In doing of which you will do yourselves no small favour, glorify God, and oblige us. We are, etc

The date of this paper would be about 1650. On 5th August of the following year, Provost Threipland announced that he had been making search for a "prettie man" to fill the vacancy in the ministry, and that he had met such a one, Alexander Ross. His ordination took place on 4th November, when sermons were preached by Hugh Ramsay, Provost of Methven, and thereafter the Presbytery and Council dined in Alexander Cruickshank's house. The collection of the town's revenue was in these days attended with great difficulty, and in 1653 the Town Council were obliged to record the following edict:—

Considering the statement of arrears given up by the several treasurers since 1640 as due by the aftermentioned persons of their tack-duties of the common good conform to the acts of rouping, and finding a desire in the said debtors for ease and consideration thereof, the Council appointed Andrew Butter, provost; John Paterson, Dean of Guild; William Rioche, bailie; Patrick Ross, Hew Nicoll and Mr. Harry Cheape, councillors; and Matthew Henderson, deacon; to be auditors of the accounts to deal with the debtor's reasons and determine what should be done, and to report their diligence within weeks. These persons having accepted the appointment, cited the parties, heard and dealt with their reasons, and persuaded them to submit to the Council's dealing, which they willingly consented to do and signed their subinissions Accordingly the aforesaid auditors, after the consideration of the several cases, gave in their report and recommendations on 28th February 1653, which the Council approved, and ordained the persons following to pay presently to Alexander Jackson, treasurer, the respective sums aftermentioned, viz

Here follows minute of approval by the Town Council and order to pay, with certification.

In 1657 the Council ordained that any person who should hereafter be admitted as a burgess and "gild brether," not having served his apprenticeship, who afterwards marries the daughter of a burgess, shall pay therefor 100.

The matter of the reform of the Council and its future composition occupied a good deal of the attention of the authorities at that date. It was proposed that it should consist of twenty-six persons, viz., fourteen merchants and twelve tradesmen, excluding the wauker and weaving trades; the twelve tradesmen to consist of one bailie, four councillors, seven deacons; the Provost to have two votes, and every second year a tradesman to be treasurer. The Convention of Burghs took the matter up and gave it very deliberate and judicious consideration. At a meeting of the Convention at Edinburgh on 10th July, 1658, we are informed that the trades declined to submit to its decision. "Compeared Andrew Butter, Provost of Perth, for himself and the magistrates and merchants, Patrick Crie, Deacon of the Skinners, and John Davidson, one of the Hammermen; and on behalf of the Craftsmen who produced several papers, petitions and replies in relation to the craftsmen's rights anent their number in the Council which being read and considered by said Commissioners, they found the number to be fourteen merchants and fourteen tradesmen or craftsmen: and every second year their treasurer being a craftsman makes them in voting one more than the merchants." The Convention for settling peace between the merchants and tradesmen of Perth, and for avoiding trouble in future, ordained the Magistrates and Council of Perth to consist of twenty-six persons, whereof fourteen to be merchants and twelve craftsmen; that the wauker and wabster trades shall not be of the number. Of the twelve craftsmen there were one bailie, four councillors, and seven deacons; and because every second year a craftsman would be treasurer there would only be three councillors, so that they would not exceed the number of twelve persons. The merchants to consist of fourteen, of whom the treasurer to be accounted one in the year when the merchant treasurer is chosen, and without prejudice to the Provost to have two votes according to the accustomed manner, which made the votes of the merchants in the election of magistrates and Council fifteen: and that none be elected magistrates, councillors, or deacons bnt those who have been or personally are actual trafficking merchants, or have been actual craftsmen, without prejudice to either party to enjoy and possess all their rights and privileges as formerly. The Convention ordains this order to be inviolably kept in all time coming, under a penalty of 500 Scots. The burgh of Perth to report their diligence thereanent at next general Convention of Royal Burghs, and to be at the head of the next missive. Both parties accepted this order, and the same was entered in their Council books as a perpetual order.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there was a rather famous well in the vicinity of Ruthven Castle, afterwards called Huntingtower well, widely known at that period for the supposed healing virtue of its waters. It was resorted to by a large number of people, with what results we do not know. The superstitions of the age would explain all that happened. The popularity of the well eventually led to the abuse of it, for in 1604 the Kirk Session convicted John Chapman of profaning the Sabbath day by going to Ruthven well to see profane dancing, and absenting himself from church, and he was admonished; and shortly after there was another conviction of six men and two women for the same offence, who were also admonished. The well is long since dried up.


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