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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter XIV


These selections from the Kirk Session Records of Perth are transcribed from four MS. volumes in the Advocates Library by James Scott, formerly one of the ministers of Perth, and cover the period from 1762 to 1806. In addition to these, there are eleven MS. volumes, viz., two of Charters of Blackfriars Monastery, 1241 to 1559: one of Charters of St. John's Church with its chapels and altars, 1358 to 1559: one of Extracts from the Records of St John's, 1591 to 1596: four of the Acts and Proceedings of the Managers of the Hospital, 1620-1732: one of Baptisms, 1561-1666: one of Marriages, 1560 1668: one of Deaths, 1591-1623: one of nineteen pages—Superstitions of Perth; or, anniversaries observed by the people, which were abolished after the Reformation. The principal of these, Corpus Christi day, St Obert's day, and resorting to the Dragon Hole, we have referred to at length in Chapter XII. We reproduce merely a selection of the more prominent incidents, but these give us a graphic view of the social life of the town in the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries, and the arbitrary, and in some cases the highly injudicious laws, which at that period were in force. The Kirk Session was then a great power as a local authority, not inferior to the Town Council, sometimes far ahead of it in its arbitrary rule. It may very naturally be asked what was the effect of this rule on the commission of crime. If we may judge from the overwhelming number of entries in the Town Council and Session Records, it is evident its effect on crime was nil Some of the records are unusually interesting, particularly those bearing on the regulation and rules of divine service. The Kirk Session divided the town into four districts, under visitors who regularly perambulated the town with a bailie to see that the people attended service forenoon and afternoon, and to note absentees that they might be proceeded against Drunkenness, tippling, and night walking were severely punished, while the supervision of the Kirk Session over the people was exercised to such a degree that no one could obtain lodging or employment except by a Kirk Session license.

This severe censorship lasted for a century and a half after the Reformation. In 1580 it was ordained that in the administration of the communion the first bell was to ring at 4 am., the second at 4.30, and the third at 5. In the matter of absence from service, it was ordained that an elder of every district should pass through the town every Sunday in time of preaching before noon (turn about), and note those who are found in taverns, bakers' booths, or on the streets, and report them to the Assembly, that every one who is absent may be fined twenty shillings, in terms of the statute. This practice was kept up till 1776. In August, 1582, it was ordained that every elder "who comes not on Monday next to service, being in town, or any other day hereafter, shall pay two shillings Scots to the poor (twopence), and if behind the hour twelve pennies Scots extra." There is a special ordinance in March, 1587, making attendance at Thursday's service compulsory. The Session, in the belief that there were sundry honest men and masters walking the streets, or abiding in their booths, and absenting themselves from service on Thursday, while the rest of their neighbours were occupied in the service of God, ordained that the Dean of Guild convene his brethren, and the deacons of the Incorporated Trades their brethren, and charge them that "every Thursday they shall leave off work, attend the kirk, and with the rest of their neighbours give themselves to the hearing of the word and service of God." The Dean of Guild and deacons were to appoint the penalty for breaking the Sabbath day by contraveners of this ordinance. Some weeks after, William Shepherd was accused of breaking the Sabbath day, confessed, and was fined. He was informed that if ever he be found again exposing his bread for sale during sermon, or at any other time on Sunday, he would be punished therefor, and the Act enforced with all rigour. On 5th April following, the whole fleshers were called before the Session and accused of breaking the Sabbath, and of being profaners of the Lord's table, swearers and common bargainers. They all pled guilty. The Session suspended judgment and the rigour of the sentence which their faults required in hope of amendment; but if in time coming " any of them be found to contravene, the penalties in the Act would be enforced with rigour as often as they were found culpable." On 18th May, 1589, the Session ordained keepers of the town's gates "to suffer no Spaniards or other idle vagabonds to come within the town. If the porters disobey, they shall be deprived of their office. Should any inhabitants receive or lodge any Spaniards or beggars let in by the sloth and negligence of the porters, they shall pay the penalty of twenty shillings Scots for each person." Janet Macduff was ordained to be taken and presented on the Cross-head on Saturday, there to remain fast in irons from 10 a.m. till 12, with a mitre on her head and writing of infamy: thereafter to be banished the town for ever. If found in the town again, to be burned with the town mark on the cheek. Any one receiving her into lodgings would have to pay a penalty of forty shillings.

Then the Session dealt with the Magistrates in the matter of constant disturbances during preaching, by bairns playing and crying in the Kirkyard. The Session ordained that the bailies appear in their own appointed seats on preaching day, that the minister duly intimate to them such things as are to be done. And in any case, if they be absent to be called by their names, to come to church next day, and then in case of absence, publicly to be reproved. And likewise the officer to wait on the bailies, and order them to keep the preaching, otherwise they will be punished as breakers of the Sabbath, as an example to others.

In 1592, Thomas Taylor, it would appear, gave no obedience to the kirk, but was denounced as a contemptuous person, and the bailies being negligent, the Session ordained the bailies to put him in ward for his contempt, and failing their doing so to proceed in excommunication against the bailies. Taylor afterwards confessed his offence in breaking the Sabbath. The Session ordered him to appear on Sunday following, and during service to stand bareheaded before Lady Gowrie's desk, when he should be required publicly to confess his offence. For the due performance of this Patrick Oliphant became his cautioner. It is recorded that in the following year in time of harvest, men and women shearers resorted to the town on Sabbath, walking up and down the streets during service, waiting to be hired, and earn a little worldly profit, little or nothing, as the Session said, regarding the profit of their souls. This being a heavy slander on the Session, the Session ordained the keepers of the gates to hold them out under pain of reprimand. The Session ordered the Magistrates to remove and banish them from the town, and suffer not such Sabbath-breaking to be unpunished.

William Kinloch, gatekeeper at Bridge of Tay port, had various times been negligent in his office and slanderous in his life, and on Sunday during sermon was found drinking in James Blyth's house. The Session ordained him to appear in the place of public repentance bare-footed and bare-headed, and in linen clothes, under pain of excommunication, in order to declare his repentance before the congregation, whom he by his ungodly life had often slandered. After this the Session ordained every Deacon of Craft, and the Dean of Guild for the merchants, to put a twopenny candle in their pews every Sunday morning in time of the morning service; and the treasurer was required to furnish a twelvepenny candle to the leader to be lighted immediately after the first bell.

As an illustration of the Session's strict supervision of the people, very probably a necessary supervision, we find that the following year they ordained Alexander Balneaves, Session Clerk, to write the names of all the inhabitants of the town, and after trial and examination of these and every one of them on the grounds and heads of the Christian religion, so that they may be admitted to the celebration of the Lord's Supper. One Sunday both men and women in the forenoon evidently rose up at the stroke of eleven, and departed without the blessing. In order to stop this objectionable practice, the Session ordained both bailies and elders to keep both the kirk doors, and suffer none to depart before the blessing, unless sick or ill at ease. The Session ordained that the whole congregation (burgh and landward) be equally divided to each minister for weekly visitation and examination of families, that they may know what progress the people make in Christianity: "So that we may be strengthened and armed against the false doctrines of the instruments of Satan, who go about craftily and maliciously to subvert or corrupt the purity of the gospel."

It was reported on 8th January, 1599, that Lady Errol of contempt absented herself from the hearing of the Word on Sunday and other preaching days. The Session ordered a bailie and three elders to speak to her, and if she had no reasonable cause for absenting herself, to desire her to be present in time coming, otherwise the Session would proceed against her with all the censures of the Kirk. In April following James Young, town's officer, was accused of profaning the Sabbath by absenting himself from the kirk and being "beastly drunk," and pursuing George M'Gregar through the streets with a drawn sword. George Horn's wife declared that on Sunday Young and John Murray came to her house and craved drink, and when she refused he drew his sword and threatened her. Knowing his disposition she gave him drink. He then went into a cellar against her will and drank till the afternoon service was ended, and was so drunk that he did not know what he did. The Session ordained him next Sunday to come to the kirk door barefooted and in linen clothes, and to stand from the ringing of the second to the third bell and thereafter to come to the place of public repentance and repent publicly in presence of the congregation: all which was done.

There are no more notable entries until 1604, when in September of that year it was reported that a number of young women, after supper on Sunday, were found under stairs dancing,singing,and knocking upon doors in various parts of the town. They appeared before the Session and confessed that they profaned the Sabbath by lascivious singing and dancing, for which they were sorry, and promised not to do it again. The Session rebuked them and ordered the Magistrates to put them in ward ; and intimation to be made publicly from the pulpit that no young women resort and convene on the Sabbaths at even, or sing and dance in time coming, and that the heads of families take heed to their children and servants that in no manner of way do they profane the Sabbath.

Passing on to 1609 it is recorded that Andrew Johnstone and his wife, James Jackson and his wife, David Jackson and Helen Hynd went through the town disguised, with swords and staves, molesting and hurting sundry persons. The Session ordered them to be put in ward. They were asked why they went out disguised at ten and eleven p.m., with swords and staves. They replied that after they had supped together on Tuesday they resolved to go about the town for no evil purpose but merriness, and denied that they molested anybody. It was found that Johnstone's wife had her hair hanging down and a black hat on her head; her husband with a sword in his hand. Jackson had a woman's cap and a woman's gown. The Session ordained them to compeer next Sunday in linen clothes in the place of public repentance, and then confess their offence and be rebuked in presence of the congregation as dissolute and licentious persons. On 24th June, 1616, the Kirk Session officer was ordered to have his red staff in the kirk on Sundays in order to awaken sleepers and to remove "greeting" bairns furth of the kirk. In 1618 Isobel Garvie and Margaret Lamb appeared before the Session to answer if they were at Huntingtower Well last Sunday, and if they drank thereof, and what they left at it They drank thereof and each of them left a pin. It was considered idolatry as putting the well in God's place. The form of their censure was continued until those whom they named compeered with them.

On 3rd August 1617, Alexander Peebles, burgess of Perth, appeared before the Session, taking exception to the doctrine of John Guthrie, minister, for slandering him and his family of sorcery, and consenting thereto by turning the riddle and uttering many outrageous speeches. John Malcolm, minister, and the Session, certified in one voice that the doctrine was general, and necessarily followed on his text, Esther ii. 7. Guthrie desired them to desist from any censure of Peebles in respect of the greatness of his misbehaviour. A few weeks afterwards Guthrie charged Thomas Young with uttering speeches against him and his ministry, also that he met him several times since on the causeway, and he would not do the civil duty of salutation as became him towards his pastor; also as he was coming to the Session, meeting him near the Kirk Vennel, Young in manner of provocation to tempt his pastor passed by without using any kind of reverence. The Session were highly offended that Young should have so far disregarded his pastor, and ordained him to appear before them and undergo condign censure for the said offence. On 18th October it is recorded that as certain persons have been so bold as to come into the Session meetings without leave asked or given, and their so doing has given offence, therefore it was ordained that in future no one be admitted to the Session meetings without first giving notice to the kirk officer. In January following, John Guthrie refused to preach in Edinburgh in view of a vacancy in the Church there. He was cited to appear before the High Commission in Edinburgh to undergo censure for disobedience. The Town Council and Kirk Session sent commissioners to explain that Guthrie's transference would be to the great hurt and detriment of the Church in Perth. The Presbytery ordained a letter to be sent to the Lords of the Commissioners showing them how necessary it was that Guthrie should remain in Perth, and begging their lordships not to insist upon it The Bishop of Dunkeld also made supplication to the same effect We hear no more of this transference until at a Session meeting on 12th June, 1621, John Guthrie, minister, declared that for a year and a half he had been urged, with letters from His Majesty, and from the Archbishop of St Andrews, and the Commissioners in Edinburgh, to go there and be their minister. If he deferred longer to obey these letters, he feared it would be hurtful to both him and the town, and he asked their advice what to do. The Session replied that they objected to his transference, and at this stage the matter appears to have dropped. On 25th May, 1622, John Malcolm declared that he was greatly troubled in his mind lest Satan prevail so far with Margaret Alexander, now deprived of her reason, that she perish in the waters of the Tay, as she has attempted several times to have done. She being among his congregation, it would be a great sin and shame if they took not precautions to prevent Satan working in her as far as they might It was concluded by the Session and such of the Town Council as were present, that she should be put in the Halkerston Tower and there kept close, and nourished on bread and small drink for a certain space, until she is restored to reason. In July following, the Session were informed that some honest men's wives haunt the house of Margaret Sadler at certain times, to waste and spend at wine and gossiping. She was admonished not to receive such women into her house in future, and not to disobey this order under such penalty as the Session should inflict upon her. George Dickson, having complained verbally to the Session that he was abused by Francis Scott and James Thomson and their advocates, young professed knaves, by casting their bonnets at him in the kirk, the Session ordered them to be apprehended and punished. Thomson being apprehended and brought before the Session for his insolence, was ordained to be taken to the Grammar School, and there scourged with St Bartholomew's tawse for his offence.

On the 3rd December, 1621, notice was given that Janet Watson held a house by herself, where she might give occasion for slander. Therefore Patrick Pitcairn, elder, was ordained to admonish her in the Session's name, either to marry or pass into service; otherwise she could not be suffered to dwell by herself. In April following, John Fleming, bailie, resolved with the Session what form of punishment should be enjoined to John Keir's wife for putting violent hands on him and for wounding him on the head with a pair of tongs. It was ordained that she on the next market day pass barefooted, holding up the said tongs in her right hand above her head through the streets of the town: all which this woman did.

Of the ministers of Perth from the Reformation up to 1688, nineteen in number, they all or nearly all conformed to the Episcopal Church, and most of them were canonically ordained deacons and presbyters. John Row was in connection with the Church of Rome.

{End of Session Records.)

THE KING AND THE PRESBYTERIAN CLERGY.

The King and the Presbyterian clergy were at this period anything but friendly, and that feeling appears to have arisen from the arbitrary position he took up regarding them and the doctrines they preached, and from the facilities he afforded the Catholics, many of whom were officers in the Royal household, and companions of the Queen. The feeling between Presbyterians and Catholics was evidently growing keen, and the first victim of resentment was David Black, minister of St Andrews, who was summoned before the King and his Privy Council for "slanderous speeches" contained in his sermons. Black defended himself, and declined to recognise the authority of the King in spiritual matters. The King laid down four conditions to be observed by the clergy:—(1) A limitation of the liberty of speech in the pulpit on persons and affairs of State; (2) the General Assembly of the Church not to be held without his authority; (3) his assent to the acts of Assembly to be as necessary as for acts of Parliament; (4) Synods, Presbyteries, Kirk Sessions, not to meddle with causes dealt with by the laws of the land, but only with moral offences. These demands put an end to all friendship between the King and clergy, as they struck at the very root of Presbyterianism. The charges against Black were that he affirmed in his sermons—(1) That the papist earls were returned to the realm by the King's consent, whereby the treachery of the King's heart was detected; (2) that all kings were the devil's children, the devil was in court, guiding the court, and at the head of the court; (3) as regards the Queen, he said in his prayer: "As for the Queen, we must also pray for her, for the sake of fashion, but we have no cause to pray for her: she will never do us any good "; (4) he called the Queen of England an atheist; (5) in one of his sermons he called the Lords of Session miscreants and bribers, the nobility degenerate, godless dissemblers and enemies to the kirk, His Majesty's Council atheists of no religion; (6) he assembled various noblemen, barons, and others, at St. Andrews, seditiously, to put themselves in arms, and to divide themselves into bands of horsemen and footmen, usurping thereby the King's authority. For these and other offences Black was sentenced to imprisonment during the King's pleasure, and at his own expense. The Privy Council on 1st January, 1597, ratified the following Acts: "That made at Edinburgh on 13th December for stopping slanderous and seditious preaching and clerical interference with affairs of State, and for preventing preachers so culpable from again preaching." The Act of 22nd December declaring the perpetrators of the attack on the King and nobility in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh on 17th December to have been guilty of treason. The Act requiring acknowledgment by the ministers of the King's jurisdiction over them, especially with regard to seditious speeches in the pulpit or elsewhere.

Black's sentence created great excitement, as it proved the determination of the King to overpower the clergy. It was resolved to discuss the matter with the King, Robert Bruce to be spokesman. The King received them, listened to their observations, and abruptly rose and left the court Their demands included the dismissal from court of excommunicated papists, the removal of papists from the Privy Council, the revoking of all acts and decisions for the past five weeks against the kirk. Before the deputation arrived at Holyrood, the Privy Council resolved not to receive them, but to commit them to custody if they tried to force themselves in. Lord Ochiltree was sent out to smooth down matters, and so far succeeded that the deputation dispersed; this was on the 17th December. On the 22nd, the Privy Council met at Linlithgow, when the King ordained that the barbarous attempt committed on 17th December on His Majesty and Council, who were besieged within the Tolbooth of Edinburgh by the rascal multitude in arms, instigated by certain seditious ministers and barons, was an act of treason, and the perpetrators guilty of that crime. In respect of the facility afforded to the ministers of Edinburgh (by their living within one close), for making convocations and conspiracies, it was ordained that they should not live together in a close in future, but in separate houses; the King to possess the houses of the close lately occupied by them, and the laigh Tolbooth, now called the Town Council House, to be set apart for the Exchequer. The King was declared to have the power to order ministers to preach or desist from preaching whenever he saw fit. The Magistrates and Council of Edinburgh were declared to have been responsible for the uproar of 17th December. Commission was given to the magistrates to try the offenders and others suspected, with power to follow up the trial by examination, imprisonment, torture, or in any other way, so that the result could be delivered to his Majesty by 1st February in such form that justice and equity may follow thereupon,

In 1597 the Provost, Magistrates and Town Council of Edinburgh were charged to enter in ward in Perth on 1st February in order to be tried for the treasonable proceedings of 17th December. The date of their entry had been postponed to 1st March, on which day it had been declared that it would be lawful for two of the Magistrates, the Dean of Guild, the Treasurer, four of the Deacons of Crafts and four of the Council with their clerk to enter themselves in ward within the burgh. These, consisting of thirteen persons, having been cited, appeared personally, and produced a procuratory given them by the magistrates of said burgh; which having been read and considered, the King inquired if the thirteen were in Perth. It was answered, "Yes," except William Maule, who was absent by dispensation from the King. This was disallowed, and the Edinburgh Magistrates were declared to have disobeyed the King, so that the appointed trial could not take place. An order was therefore issued to denounce the Edinburgh Magistrates and others as rebels, and to put them to the horn. Then came the apology:— "The Provost, Magistrates, etc, of Edinburgh, regretting the great dishonour done to the King by the tumultuous uproar of 17th December by a number of wicked and seditious people, declared by the King and Secret Council to be treason, which by the oversight of the magistrates was not so carefully and timeously repressed and tried as the indignity of the case required, we, his Majesty's most humble and obedient subjects, representing the said burgh, as God and his Majesty knows, are altogether innocent and free of the said tumult In order that all displeasure of his Majesty may be removed, and his wonted good affection borne to us, we, the Provost, Magistrates, Council and Deacons of Crafts, most humbly crave his Majesty's pardon for the negligence and oversight of the Magistrates, and for the same shall satisfy his Majesty at sight specially by the performing of the humble offers given in by us, and as his Majesty shall enjoin us, for punishing of the said tumult" This very humble apology, so craftily worded to please the King, must have caused much chuckling in Edinburgh at the time. Evidently the King accepted it, for we hear no more of the Edinburgh Magistrates being in ward in Perth.

In 1599 two of the Magistrates of Perth, for careless administration, were fined in 68. The case consisted of a complaint by James Stevenson of Edinburgh, who had instructed William Smyth, tailor, to be cautioner for Christopher Laurence of Perth, that Laurence would pay Robert Hewat 50 conform to letter of suspension raised by Laurence. At the calling of the suspension, decreet was given against him, and Smyth his cautioner was compelled to pay the sum. Smyth obtained decreet against Stevenson, whereupon Stevenson raised an action against Laurence and obtained decreet for 68, for non-payment of which Laurence had been put to the horn. Then there were issued letters of caption against the Magistrates for the apprehension and imprisonment of Laurence. He was imprisoned in the Tolbooth, but instead of keeping him there till Stevenson had been paid, they released him, so that by their default Stevenson was frustrated and disappointed of payment The latter appeared personally, but Oliver Young and Andrew Roy, Bailies of Perth, failing to appear, the Lords ordained them to pay Stevenson the sum of 68. In January following, Andrew Roy appealed to the Lords, pointing out that he was not a party either to the imprisoning or releasing of Laurence, and that the bailie succeeding him ought to be answerable for his own deed He would find caution if necessary. The Lords gave judgment suspending the letters of horning, and the matter dropped. Following on this there was a complaint by Thomas Taylor, flesher, Perth, that having bought in November last thirty cattle from some of the Earl of Mar's tenants, he was driving them to Perth when Robert Reid, Thomas Dow, and Malcolm Reid of Tullymet, tenants of the Earl of Atholl, having overtaken him at the Muir of Blair, violently took from him the said cattle, together with his purse and 300 merks of gold and silver, carried him to Tullymet, then to Dunkeld, where he was detained three nights in prison, and could not get his liberty until he had found caution for 500 merks to answer at the Earl's Court The said offenders not appearing and not having been entered by the Earl, the King and Council ordained the Earl and them to be denounced rebels.

On 13th July following, Thomas Blair, skipper in Dundee, having on board his ship a chest of linen cloth uncustomed, William Davidson, the depute, caused his servant, Arthur Neish, to traffic with this cloth, as belonging to His Majesty, whereupon the skipper violently forced the cloth from him. Again on 18th July, Davidson being in Perth, Thomas and William Blair, merchants there, and David Blair in Scone, sought for him in the Grass Market to kill him. Missing him there, they went to the house of a burgess where Davidson was, and desired him if he was a good fellow to come out with them to the Inch, where they would teach him a new form of exacting custom; they desired William Hay, who was in company with Davidson, to retire, otherwise he would regret it Afterwards the Blairs, learning that Davidson was on his way to Dundee, followed him in order to take his life. If such conduct remained unpunished the pursuers would get no man to serve them. The Lords, who were appealed to by Davidson, assoilzied William and David Blair because Davidson had failed to prove his case, and they excused the non-appearance of Thomas Blair.

The following year a curious incident occurred on the South Inch. A complaint was made by Sir George Home of Spott, and Thomas Hamilton of Drumcairn, that Sir Harry Lindsay of Carston, who in respect of his office in the Royal Household ought to be a good example to others, had some days previously, accompanied by a dozen persons, gone to Perth in search of Patrick Eviot, and on finding him on the South Inch shot ten or twelve hagbutts or pistolets at him, so that if he had not escaped in a boat he would have been killed. Both parties appearing before the Privy Council, Lindsay confessed that some of his company shot at Eviot by his directions. The Lords ordained him to be imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle during the King's pleasure.

In 1599 a complaint was made by the inhabitants of the Southgate of Perth. At the erection of the burgh into a free Royal Burgh, the Magistrates and inhabitants willing by a civil and political form of government to develop its prosperity and cause it to flourish in wealth, appointed and ordained the Fish-market to be held in the Southgate opposite Allareit Chapel as the most convenient place, which market was held there for many years. About the year 1387 by the negligence of the Magistrates and other troubles, the market had been removed to another part of the burgh. The then inhabitants of Southgate, dissatisfied at the removal of the market, that part of the burgh fell into decay and ruin. They therefore appealed to the Earl of Fife, governor, and Great Chamberlain of the realm. The Earl visited Perth, and, with the consent of the inhabitants, remitted the matter to Lord Nicol of Erskine, William Elder of Dispensa, and Richard of Stratheam; which noblemen ordained and decerned that all manner of sea-fish brought to the burgh of Perth on horseback, should be sold in the Southgate, as the books of the Town Council direct. Conform to this decreet, the Fishmarket had been re-established in the South-gate, and held there till about 1486, when, by the negligence of the Magistrates, it was removed to another place. Complaint was then made to David, Earl of Crawford, Great Chamberlain, and in a court held by him on 21st July, 1486, the matter was referred to an assize chosen for the purpose, which assize unanimously approved the Earl of Fife's ordinance. Accordingly the matter had been of new set down in Southgate and kept there some time, when it was again removed and set down at the Bridge. On account of the Southgate going to ruin by the removal of the market, the Privy Council ordained Patrick Blair, Patrick Grant, Constantin Malise, and Oliver Young, bailies of Perth, to remove the Fish-market from the Bridge back to the Southgate, opposite Allareit Chapel, or else to appear before the King and Council to show cause to the contrary. The complainers appeared by Alexander Peebles, their procurator, but the persons named failed to appear, and a peremptory order was issued charging the bailies of Perth to remove the market conform to the two acts registered in their books within three days after the charge, under pain of rebellion.

Edinburgh was visited by the plague in 1606, in consequence of which Parliament was ordered to sit at Perth on 1st July. The nobles and barons were to be attended or escorted as follows: Each marquis and earl by twenty-four persons, each lord by twelve, each great baron by eight, and all others by their ordinary household train conform to the statute, no one to presume under any pretence whatever to violate this ordinance. The Privy Council, two days before this Parliament met, announced by proclamation that the nature and dignity of the Court required modest, peaceable and good behaviour on the part of those who repair thither, who for the duty they owe their sovereign should lay aside all quarrels and unite together for the furtherance of his Majesty's service. All dutiful subjects were ordered to keep the time of this assembly inviolate. The Lords of the Secret Council ordered all who repaired to this Parliament to conduct themselves peaceably, and not to presume to prosecute others for old feuds and new; nor to offer any occasion of offence to others under pain of death, certifying that those who fail should be apprehended and the penalty of death executed upon them without favour or mercy. The condition of Scotland at that period was unsatisfactory under the weak and vacillating administration of a government ruled over by a feeble and foolish monarch. Such a proclamation under a wise ruler would never have been issued, and there is reason to believe that unprincipled ministers and nobles who were plentiful indulged in these forbidden pursuits and hoodwinked the King.

This seems to have been a record year for the town of Perth. James, having made his Parliamentary arrangements, proceeded to give his next attention to the Kirk; but nothing was to be allowed to divert attention from the meeting of Parliament

After all these precautions, this Parliament was duly held at Perth, and a brief description of it has been preserved. This was the famous Red Parliament The reason for the name was the unusual blaze of colour presented by the costumes of the nobility when Parliament assembled. It was requested that, to distinguish the nobles from the "meaner and inferior ranks," all dukes, marquises, and Earls should wear in Parliament red crimson velvet robes lined with white armings and taffety; and all Lords red scarlet robes lined after the same fashion. The procession which took place was very imposing. It was ordained that the Commissioners of Burghs two and two in rank march first; next to them the Commissioners of the Barons two and two in rank on horseback; then the Abbots and Friars two and two ; then the Lords ranked as ordained, the latest in creation to march first; then the Bishops and Archbishops two and two in rank according to their dignity; then the Earls ranked as ordained ; then the Commissioner and the Marquises of Hamilton and Huntly. Balfour informs us that this Parliament was presided over by John, Earl of Montrose, Commissioner to the King, and that an act was passed confirming the privileges possessed by the town, specially those under the Great Seal of 1600 after the Gowrie Conspiracy; and the right of patronage to the Vicarage of Perth. Another act was passed in favour of David, Lord Scone, erecting the Abbey of Scone into a temporal lordship. In respect of the King's debts a tax was authorised of 4, on the one pound land, the same proportion to be paid by prelates and burghs. This tax, which was a very oppressive one, and said to be double of the greatest tax that ever was granted to any King of Scotland before, was to be levied for four years. It was this tax that the King and the third Earl of Gowrie quarrelled over. As a proof of the curious customs of the time, this Parliament issued an order to the citizens prohibiting them from salting salmon more than for their own use during the sittings. Orders were given to provide a tun of wine, the half of which was to be given to Montrose, the Commissioner, and the other half to the Earl of Dunbar.

The General Assembly of the Kirk had been appointed for Dundee, was transferred to Perth by order of the Privy Council, but ordered to be held in May, 1607, and the clergy were forbidden to resort or repair to Dundee for holding Assembly under pain of rebellion, and if any disobey, to be denounced as rebels. The Lords also commanded the Provost and Magistrates of Dundee that they suffer not the Assembly to be held there, otherwise they will have to answer his Majesty and the Privy Council on their obedience at their highest peril.

The Lords of the Privy Council ordered at this date George, Master of Winton, and Sir Alexander Seton, his brother, to appear personally before them at Perth, to answer for their riotous conduct on the High Street of Perth on 1st July, in a scuffle with the Earl of Glencairn and his friends. John Mather, servant of Glencairn, was killed. This was a violation of the proclamation made for the quiet and peace of Parliament and was contempt of the King's authority. The scuffle occurred on the opening day of Parliament and was the result of a feud between those two houses. The Setons were nephews of Lord Chancellor Dunfermline. One night after supper they encountered Glencairn and his retainers on their way to Eglinton's lodging. The leaders were in the act of passing each other at a convenient distance when some mischievous servants in the rear drew their swords and raised a commotion, which was only quieted by the intervention of the town's men and the King's guard, and resulted in the hurting of very few excepting a servant of Glencairn, who was mortally wounded. The Chancellor was so annoyed at this affair, that he refused to see his nephews, and resolved to have the matter investigated. At the diet for examination the Setons failed to appear, were denounced as rebels and put to the horn.

There was a duty or custom leviable at this period on all passengers and goods passing between Perth and Bridge of Earn. This was in all probability connected with the maintenance of the Bridge, but it was strongly objected to by the laird of Moncrieffe, Sir William Moncrieffe. His objections succeeded, for he obtained relief from the payment of this impost, as will be seen from the following agreement granted by the Magistrates and Council:—

Notwithstanding the Act for uplifting the duty it shall not be prejudicial to William Moncrieffe of Moncrieffe, his heirs and successors, men tenants or servants; nor to Sir John Moncrieffe, his brother, nor to any of the surname of Moncrieffe so that they shall pass and repass freely without payment of duty.

In the year 1607, we have the records of some extraordinary proceedings in the ecclesiastical courts. The subject of debate was what is known as the "Constant Moderator." This was an order of the King to presbyteries to appoint such an official, who was to be chosen from the Moderators of the Synod, and when once appointed was to hold office ad vitam aut culpam. This was regarded as a tyrannical ordinance of the King, and as the clergy were not consulted they made up their minds to disregard it The record informs us that it was ordained by the King and his Privy Council that Alexander Lindsay, being nominated and appointed by the General Assembly held at Linlithgow (not admitted by the clergy), is declared to be the Constant Moderator of the Presbytery of Perth, and the ministers of that Presbytery have received and admitted Alexander Lindsay to this office, and he has accepted the same. Nevertheless, the Lords of the Secret Council had been informed that the Synod had instructed the Presbytery of Perth to discharge Lindsay from the office and to nominate another, whereby it was said they had usurped great authority. . . . . They had disobeyed his Majesty, and given an example to other presbyteries to do the same. The Lords ordained the Presbytery of Perth to acknowledge and obey Alexander Lindsay in all things concerning the moderatorship, and to concur and convene with him weekly at their ordinary meeting-place, and not to presume or take upon themselves to make any other nomination, or to discharge Lindsay, under pain of rebellion; and to prohibit the other ministers of the Presbytery from accepting the moderatorship. The clergy resented this arbitrary dictatorship, and so far from obeying the King, they were more determined than ever to have nothing to do with the "Constant Moderator." These proceedings, which were of a very exciting nature, have been recorded, and we will proceed to give a brief summary of them on account of the great interest which they have afforded to posterity. The Synod met on 8th April in St. John's Church, William Ross, Moderator. Lord Scone presented his commission, but the Synod refused to hear it read They were referred to the meeting at Linlithgow in December. The Synod craved a sight of the report of it, but it could not be found. Several members declared they were at the Linlithgow meeting, but heard nothing about the "Constant Moderator."

Lord Scone would not allow them to proceed. They entreated him not to disturb the meetings of God's servants, nor bring such a scandal on the country and himself. He persisted in using menacing language,

The Synod requested him to take advice, and dissolved the meeting. Next day, on the assembling of the Synod, Lord Scone appeared, and intimated that he would discharge the Synod, as he had the power to do so. His commission from the King was then read, ordaining that they should do nothing contrary to the King's intention, and that what was done at Linlithgow should be obeyed. He was reminded that his commission carried no authority to dissolve the Synod. The question was then put whether they should proceed to elect their moderator as formerly, or according to the new Linlithgow act. It was resolved that they should keep to the old form. At this, Lord Scone, according to the record, exclaimed that the Magistrates must remove them. They charged him, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whose authority they were convened, not to trouble the meeting. But he responded: "There is no Jesus Christ here." Calderwood's version is: "The devil a Jesus is here." The Moderator exclaimed: "Cease, my lord, we will not be prevented by violence from the doing of our office under the Lord Jesus Christ." The new Moderator was then chosen, Mr. Henry Livingston, whom Lord Scone pressed to put out of the chair, sitting down in it himself, and preventing Livingston occupying it. Livingston answered that he was chosen thereto by a greater than he, even the voice of Christ's Kirk, which was Christ's own voice, and therefore he would obey Him. As for the chair, it was to him indifferent; let his lordship keep it He would sit at the table among his brethren. The Synod then engaged in prayer, but his lordship disturbed them, endeavouring to overthrow the table upon them, and asked that the Magistrates be sent for. Notwithstanding, they engaged in prayer, and with great emotion continued it The Magistrates arrived on the scene, and Lord Scone commanded them to ring the common bell and remove the rebels. The Magistrates said they could not do so without the authority of the Council, which they would go and convene, but they never returned. The Synod proceeded according to order and removed the Presbytery of Perth furth for trial. Lord Scone locked the door, and shut them out; but they, getting access to a loft or gallery, signified to their brethren their presence from that place. The Synod proceeded with the trial till nine p.m., appointing to meet again in ten hours. Returning again at the expiry of that time, they found all the doors shut. The Magistrates came and informed them that Lord Scone had done so, and taken the keys with him against their will. They therefore resolved to sit at the kirk door, where there was brought to them boards, forms, and stools, and then with great complaisance, men regretting, women weeping, and cursing the instruments of that disturbance of the clergy in the execution of their office; being gravely and orderly set down surrounded by a large audience, amid silence the meeting was opened with prayer. The Synod instructed the Presbytery to cancel the appointment of Alexander Lindsay as "Constant Moderator," and choose another as formerly; the Synod at the same time disregarding an order from the King through Lord Scone to nominate a " Constant Moderator" for Auchterarder Presbytery in room of one lately deceased. A committee of four was appointed to wait on the Privy Council, defend the proceedings of the Synod, and complain of Lord Scone. The King, it would appear, meant that the "Constant Moderator" should be applied to provincial Synods, the moderator of every Synod to be chosen from among the " Constant Moderators " of the presbyteries of that Synod, which according to him was settled by the undivulged act of the Linlithgow Convention. These extraordinary proceedings created great excitement all over the country, and the clergy were commended for the firm and determined position they took up. The Privy Council were bound to take notice of the matter, and on the nth June following issued an edict, in which they said, after referring to the proceedings : Being more refractory than before, the King's commissioners were forced to execute charges of horning against them. At the Synod meeting on 8th April, and after the ordinary sermon by William Cooper, which ended about nine a.m., Lord Scone directed Henry Elder, town clerk of Perth to William Ross, who as Moderator of preceding Synod was to preach the sermon to the Assembly, to entreat him in the King's name to behave himself modestly in his sermon, and to say nothing that would distract his brethren or compromise their votes or opinions. Nevertheless William Ross behaved himself very seditiously in this sermon, and stirred up his brethren not to obey the orders of the commissioner. His sermon ended at two p.m. having begun at ten a.m. The brethren retired for refreshment, to meet again at three. They, however, privately agreed to meet at 2.30, so as to steal a march on the Commissioner, and with more than ordinary speed proceeded to nominate their Moderator. They elected Livingston, and Lindsay protested. The Lords immediately prohibited the Presbytery from choosing anyone but Lindsay. Next Presbytery day Lindsay, accompanied by the Bishop of Dunblane and the ministers of Abernethy and Kinnoull, met in the kirk, but none of the Presbytery convened with them. Some remained in sundry corners of the kirk, others returned to their homes. The Commissioner, seeing this, ordered the Presbytery to meet; but the members disobeyed, took instruments, and protested. The Commissioner also took instruments upon their disobedience, whereby the ministers, in his opinion, had contemptuously behaved themselves in all their proceedings in this their pretended Synod, for which they ought to be punished in their persons and goods, as an example to others. On the representation of the Lord Advocate, the Lords of the Privy Council ordained William Ross to be imprisoned within the Castle of Blackness, there to remain at his own expense until released by the King, and ordained letters of horning to be directed against him. Henry Livingston for his accepting the moderatorship against the command of the King's Commissioner, because he declared his ignorance, etc., to be imprisoned within the bounds of his own parish of Stirling, and prohibited from preaching in any place but his own kirk, or from attending the Presbytery or Synod during the King's pleasure.

This incident, which was an attempt to foist Episcopacy on Presbyterian ministers, showed that the King's proposal was arrogant and impracticable, and the punishment of the two ministers, especially that of William Ross, was a tryannical and indefensible act In October following more trouble occurred. The Magistrates of Perth and the friends of the Lord of Lindores quarrelled, and caused some slaughter and bloodshed on either side. The Lords of the Privy Council ordained the Magistrates, also the Magistrates of the previous year, and Patrick, Lord of Lindores, and James Leslie, etc, his servants, to appear before them on 5th November following, to answer for the misrule and insolence committed by them, and meantime to find caution, either party in 10,000 merks, to keep the peace. At the same time we are informed that John, Earl of Tullibardine, charged himself in 10,000 merks, that David, Lord Scone, Provost, James Drummond, Gavin Dalziel, Patrick Anderson, and William Williamson, bailies, and the Provost, Dalziel, Robert Mathew, Andrew Arnot, and Gabriel Mercer, bailies the preceding year, should keep the peace till 5th November, and not molest the other party. This bond is subscribed at Perth 28th October, before William Murray of Drumsyre, John Pitcairn, Colin Ramsay, and Patrick Bryson, writer in Perth; Henry Elder, clerk, subscribing for Gabriel Mercer. It is evident from this that the two sets of Magistrates had quarrelled among themselves, and the Privy Council were appealed to, to restore peace.


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