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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter XVI


THE extraordinary proceedings, narrated in Chapter XIV. pretty clearly manifest the strong feelings of the King in the matter of Episcopacy, of which he was now the champion. The Presbyterian clergy, however, maintained their position, and the King was obliged to recognise the fact that they were not to be concussed on this subject Nothing could be more unreasonable than the procedure of the King; and the imprisonment of those who differed from him was without excuse. Among the cases of this nature, that of the unfortunate Earl of Errol calls forth sympathy. He refused to be converted to Episcopacy, and was ordered to be imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Perth.

In an edict of the Privy Council of 21st May, 1608, we are referred to the non-fulfilment of the Act of the General Assembly at Linlithgow of December, 1606, ordaining the Earl of Errol to be confined in the burgh of Perth because he had not returned to the true faith—one of the causes, it was alleged, of the great increase of papacy in this kingdom. The earl was ordained within ten days of the charge to enter the burgh of Perth, and not depart therefrom without the King's authority. The earl obeyed this request, and in September following sent a petition to the Privy Council giving intimation thereof; but the town being visited by the plague, a great many houses were affected, many of the inhabitants went away for safety, and the earl therefore desired that his place of imprisonment be changed. The Lords considered two certificates on behalf of the earl—one from Lindsay, Bishop of Dunkeld, and one from the Magistrates of Perth—testifying to the accuracy of the petition. The earl was removed from Perth to Errol, the Lords declaring that the change would not be prejudicial to the proceedings and censure of the Kirk and Presbytery against him.

It would appear from the Records that some strange crimes were committed at this period. For example, in July, 1610, Laurence, Lord Oliphant, accompanied by a number of his men, all armed with hagbutts and pistolets, set upon Thomas Mitchell and John M'Ewen, tenants of Tullibardine, in the public highway, wounded them, and took them as prisoners to Dupplin, where he would have hanged them but for the interference of Sir John Lindsay. Lord Oliphant then cast them into the Thieves' Hole at Dupplin, and kept them there several days without meat, drink, or other necessaries. After nine days he brought them, fettered and their hands bound behind their backs, to Edinburgh. These men were free subjects, taken for no crime. Both parties went to court The Lords found that Oliphant had violated the law in so far as he had pistolets in his possession at the time libelled, and ordained him to be imprisoned in Edinburgh till relieved. His defence was that, foregathering with these men, and seeing them armed, he had apprehended and imprisoned them in terms of the Act of Parliament of 1597. The Lords, having further considered this defence, assoilzied Oliphant from the charge.

In the same year James Murray, merchant, Perth, requested authority from the Privy Council to summon the Magistrates of Perth, who had been put to the horn in virtue of letters raised by him against them for a debt of 500 merks, and for not warranting "skaithless keeping" of him at the hands of Margaret Gow, relict of Oliver Young, burgess of Perth, anent the payment to her of 260 merks and expenses. Nothing further was heard of this matter.

In 1610, the office of gaoler of the Tolbooth of Perth was vacant, an office that very probably would be difficult to fill on account of the scarcity of applicants. The Town Council, however, had evidently resolved to appoint George Lumsdail. In place of the Council putting before him the terms and duties of his appointment, he put before them the terms on which he would take it, in a regularly drawn-up missive. This document is an ingenious production and worthy of being preserved as a relic of old times. We give it, slightly condensed:—

"Be it ken'd by all men your present lovite, Mr. George Lumsdail, messenger, of Lawers. The Town Council having accepted and admitted me to be gaoler and keeper of their Tolbooth on caution to be found by me for keeping the said authorities skaith-less of money, deed, or occasional damage and expenses that they may incur in my default by suffering persons to escape furth of the Tolbooth. I shall faithfully and diligently, loyally and truly, discharge the duties of said office and be an obedient servant to the authorities. Therefore to be bound and obliged and by the tenor hereof as principal; and with me John Campbell of Fordel, Sir James Campbell of Lawers, and David Coshach of Monzie-vaird, cautioners and securities for me. Both parties bind and oblige themselves conjointly and severally that I shall faithfully discharge the said office of gaoler in all things, and shall keep and detain all warders and prisoners that are committed for whatever sum of money, crime or occasion, and shall not suffer any to escape nor pass furth of the said Tolbooth except by order of the Magistrates. Should any escape in my default, I as principal, and my cautioners above named, bind and oblige us conjointly and severally to warrant, reserve, harmless and skaithless keep, the Provost and Magistrates of all sums of money, actions of damages, and expenses that they shall sustain or incur. And for their better relief to pay to the credit of the persons warded such sums of money as they shall happen to have furth of the said ward unsatisfied and shall be resting owing, in the meantime, and for which they have been warded or arrested, with expenses to the Magistrates and Council which they may hereafter incur. I shall honestly and diligently serve in the office of gaoler and be leal, true, diligent, and obedient to the Magistrates, and shall not hear of their skaith in anyway but shall stop it to the utmost of my power. Also that I shall have a sufficient book marked according to the order of the Town Clerk, and that the booking and deleting of all persons named shall be done by the Clerk. And if I am deprived or demit the office of gaoler by any fault of mine meriting dismissal in that case I will demit and renounce the same in favour of the Provost and Magistrates, and deliver to them the keys and lock of the Tolbooth, and I and my cautioners will ratify and renew their parts in most ample form of security to the said authorities. In case of necessary registration and raising of loots hereupon in default of us, the said principals and cautioners, we oblige ourselves to pay to the said authorities the sum of 100 good and usual money of Scotland, and that without prejudice of their relief foresaid and the execution hereof, in fulfilling these presents, and I, George Lumsdail, bind and oblige me and my foresaids to warrant, relieve and skaithless keep my cautioners out of all damage, danger, interest or expense they may incur. Should any of them become irresponsible I bind and oblige myself to find new and sufficient cautioners bound by special bond to warrant the said authorities conform to warrandice above expressed. ... If any of the persons committed shall break through the walls, roof, or windows of the Tolbooth, and shall burn or by violence break the door thereof, it shall not be put to my default or negligence. And for better security we, both principal and cautioners, are content, and consent that these presents be inserted and registered in the books of Council and Session, Sheriff or Burgh Court Books of Perth, or in any other judge's books competent within the realm of Scotland to have the strength of the act and decreet of other of the judges thereof. In witness whereof, etc."

We hear nothing more of this elaborate paper. Evidently the master of the Tolbooth was a man of importance in these times, and got his own way.

In 1610 an ordinance, interesting and important to the town, was passed by the authorities at Edinburgh. This was the question of robes for the Provost and Magistrates. In support of the change, it was stated that though the promiscuous wearing of apparel might not convey an impression of negligence to the spectator, it was desirable that the Provost and Magistrates should be clothed in decent and comely apparel, suiting the gravity of their office. It was therefore ordained that in Edinburgh, St Johnstoun, and other places, the Magistrates should wear gowns of red scarlet cloth, with furs suitable, on Sundays and all other solemn days, and opening days of Parliament This practice is still in force—one, moreover, that is generally approved—and it materially adds to the dignity of the office. An incident of a peculiar nature occurred in 1611. There were two men in the burgh of the name of William Blair. The one, called Dutch William, conceived malice against the other, and violently attacked him, the complainer, at the South Inch port Dutch William came off second best, and the Magistrates put the complainer in the Tolbooth. The defender was hurt by a boy, not by the complainer at all. Charge was given the Magistrates to enter the complainer to answer the premises. The Lords, in respect that the Magistrates had not entered the complainer conform to the charge given them, ordained the Provost and Magistrates to be denounced rebels, but superseded the execution of horning for six days, with intimation that if they entered complainer by that time there would be no further proceedings against them. The treatment of this matter may have been conform to the laws of the time, but it is difficult to regard it in any other than a ridiculous light The Magistrates may have been wrong in what they did, but to denounce them as rebels was not warrantable in the circumstances. The case came before the Court a few days afterwards, when David Sibbald, one of the Magistrates, appeared. The magistrates were exonerated, and Sibbald ordered to convey Blair, the complainer, to Edinburgh, and deliver him to the constable thereof for assaulting "Dutch William."

The price of labour at this period became a serious question, and from all that can be learned from the history of the time, both money and provisions were scarce. The matter would seem to have been taken up by the Justices of the Peace, and they issued the following paper, which, in the circumstances, must have been of great importance to the inhabitants. It has all the appearance of a well considered, well matured ordinance. The Justices met at Perth and ordained the following rates:—

One holder of a plough, one thresher in a barn, one driver of a horse with any carriage, for fee and bounty, yearly 12. Each woman servant each half year 3. Each horse boy, yearly, 5 6s. 8d.. with four ells of grey cloth allenarly. Each workman daily, with his food, two shillings, without food, five shillings. Each cook, baxter or breuster, the barons or gentlemen, earls' and lords' servants, yearly, 12, and the cook's foreman, yearly, 6. If any of the lieges contravene or give more wages, they shall pay 20 of a fine. If any of the said servants refuse to work for the said wages, they shall be apprehended and imprisoned and further punished at the discretion of the Justices. If any servant be already paid greater fees they shall at next term take no more fees than above specified under the said penalties. Servants breaking from their masters within terms shall be put in prison, and shall give security for damage. It shall not be lawful for a field servant or cottar to leave his master's service, nor for any person to fee him or accept of him in any manner of way unless he warn his master forty days before the term, so that he provide himself with another servant in due time, and the servant who is to leave his old master for the new shall receive his old master's testimonial of good service, or a testimonial from the Justice of the Peace of the parish, or if there be no Justice, a testimonial from the minister of the parish and two of the elders thereof. All servants being lawfully fee'd shall enter their new place of service within eight days after the term. All men and women servants repairing to cottar's houses and not clad (supplied) with masters, shall be holden in all time coming as strong and idle vagabonds, and the Acts of Parliament made anent such persons, beggars and gipsies, shall be put in execution, and the cottars and resetters of these punished accordingly, No shoemaker to take a higher price for the inch of double soled shoes, cork shoes or any work of that sort than eighteen pence within the thread; and for the inch of single soled shoes within the waits twelve pence ; and for the inch of thick shoes within the sewing of eight inches of leather ten pence; and for the pair of double soled boots 4; under penalty of 5 so oft as they fail, and their stock to be confiscated and put to the use of the justiciary and constables. No webster shall make any kind of cloth, linen or woollen to sell, but so much only as shall serve himself and household, and that he buy no more wool, lint or yarn, but so much as may serve himself. In case he has not sheep of his own, the neighbours next adjacent to him will testify to the same on oath under the penalty of 5.

In 1612 another class of crime appears on the Record. Patrick Blair of Ardblair being a frequent bearer, wearer, and shooter with hagbutts and "lang guns," Patrick Butter of Gormac, one of the Justices, had taken the trouble to reason with Blair on his unlawful conduct and persuade him to stop it This failing, Butter handed Blair over to the bench, and when summoned to the Quarter Sessions he disdainfully declined to appear. For this he was outlawed, and directions given to the four nearest Justices to try the case. He duly appeared before them, and they demanded why he refused the first citation. He said the libel was full of lies, and with that he drew the copy he had received out of his pocket, and in a contemptuous manner threw it down on the table, giving it a stroke with his fist saying it was full of lies. To this Patrick Butter replied that if that copy were full of lies, he would be content to underlie the punishment due to Blair if he did not plead guilty; on which Blair gave Butter a number of lies, put his hand on his sword in presence of the Justices and would have drawn it had he not been stopped and put out of court This happening in the kirkyard of Lundie, Blair assembled twenty or thirty of his followers, and in an excited manner came into the kirk and resolved to make an attack on Butter, but he was stopped. The case was referred to the Privy Council, George Affleck of Balmanno, Convener of the Justices, appearing for the pursuers. Blair was present and confessed his misbehaviour. The Lords ordained him to be imprisoned in the Castle of Edinburgh at his own expense till his Majesty's pleasure be known. On 18th September following, Blair appeared before the Council and acknowledged the offence, craved pardon and offered to give such satisfaction as the Council required. The Lords released him from the Castle of Edinburgh, and ordained him to confess his fault in a like manner before Patrick Butter and the Justices for Perthshire, and to find caution for 3000 merks for keeping the peace with the Laird of Gormac.

The matter of local taxation occupies but a small place in the annals of Perth, We have, however, a notable case in 1613, when the Deacon of the Weavers complained that the Magistrates, through malice and without just cause, and without warrant of law and custom, imposed such taxes upon the Craft: as they were unable to pay. The Magistrates had apprehended pursuers, and committed them to the Tolbooth, where the Magistrates detained them and refused to liberate them. Complainers appearing in person, and the defenders not appearing, the Lords ordered the defenders, the Provost and bailies, to be denounced as rebels. The Magistrates appealed to the Lords of Council and Session, and complained that the Deacon of the Weavers had wrongously obtained a decreet against them. The complainers stated that the difference standing between the town and the Weavers, arising out of the latter's obstinacy and refusing to make payment of their taxation lawfully imposed, had been referred by mutual consent to arbitration. That the Magistrates did not appear was not because of their contempt, but because of their not anticipating that these persons would prosecute an action when it was to have been settled privately. The Lords, in respect that the Weavers were now at liberty, suspended the decreet

The lawlessness under James VI. strikes with surprise all students of history. For example, there is an offence recorded which was very common at that time. In 1613 a complaint was made by David Sibbald, Dean of Guild, that on 10th July Thomas Lamb, armed with sword, gauntlet, dirk, and other weapons, came at 7 p.m. to com-plainer's gate, where complainer was standing in a peaceable manner. He struck complainer violently on the breast and rushed him to the ground, pulled his dirk, struck at him therewith, and would have slain him but for the help of some people who saw it Afterwards, as complainer was walking along High Street, Lamb again attacked him with his dirk, striking him several blows. Lamb continued to threaten the complainer and take his life. The Lords, in respect that the defender failed to appear, ordained him to be imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh within six days, or be denounced a rebel and put to the horn. This is a case which illustrates the weakness of the local Magistrates and their inability to preserve law and order in the burgh.

On account of the raids of the Clan Gregor, which at this period appear to have been both serious and extensive, an important trial of the cause took place at Perth. The Commissioners of the Sheriffdom of Perth, who held the court, met in the Tolbooth. For reset and supporting the Clan Gregor in these raids, a large number of persons, upwards of 400, were at this trial decerned to pay heavy fines. It created great excitement and appears to have served its purpose, for these raids were not afterwards very numerous. It would appear from the transactions of 1614 that the town, having mortgaged their common good for 40,000 merks, and having no means of repaying the same but by selling a nineteen year tack of some part of it to some of their own townsmen, the Lords of the Privy Council, on the Corporation asking them, gave their consent to the proposal In the following year a very curious proclamation was issued on the subject of the unusual scarcity of eggs. Some of the lieges evidently were carrying on a great trade in exporting eggs, and the result was that the citizens were unable to get a sufficient supply. The proclamation said:—

Forasmuch as among the many abuses which the iniquity of time and the love of filthy lucre and gain have produced in this commonwealth, there has of late been observed an unlawful and pernicious trade of transporting eggs furth of the Kingdom by certain avaricious and ungodly persons void of modesty and discretion, who, preferring their own interest to the common weal, have by themselves, their servants or agents, travelled over the country buying up the whole eggs that they can get, and exporting them at their convenience. Not only has there been a great scarcity of eggs for sometime past, but the same are risen to extraordinary prices. If this trade be allowed to continue, there will in a short time be neither eggs nor poultry in the country. The Lords of the Secret Council ordain His Majesty's lieges, merchants, skippers and owners of ships, by proclamation at all places needful that none of them either carry or transport any eggs furth of this Kingdom under any pretence, under a penalty of 100 besides punishment of them in their persons at the sight and discretion of the Lords, certifying if they fail the punishment shall be inflicted without favour.

This proclamation had a salutary effect.

About this period the Town Council and Kirk Session began to have an annual meeting to fix the prices which their tenants were to pay for the bolls of bere which grew on the Blackfriars and Charterhouse crofts. In 1621 and 1622 there was great scarcity of corn throughout the kingdom, caused by the bad harvests and the inundation of the river. This was the remarkable flood of 1621. The prices of victual, as recorded in a MS. volume in the possession of the Perth Literary and Antiquarian Society, appear to have been as follows: In 1525, oatmeal, 8s. 10d.; in 1557, wheat 7s. 3d., oats 4s.; in 1578, wheat and bere each 4s. 2d.; in 1612, victual sold after Michaelmas, 16s. 8d.; in 1616, bere 10s.; in 1634, 15s.; in 1665, oatmeal 5s. 6d., bere 6s. 8d.; in 1685, oatmeal 6s. 1d., bere 7s. 9d. These prices are per bolL A record of prices in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has been preserved, and affords us useful information respecting the prices of food at that time. The prices do not vary much, except when a serious emergency arose, such as the flood of 1621, when prices advanced 100 per cent

In the reign of James V., 1 sterling was equal to 3 Scots, and from 1544 to 1560 it was equal to 4 Scots. During the regency of Morton, 1574, the intrinsic value of the money of Scotland was further lessened, so that 8 Scots became equal to 1 sterling. Methods were afterwards used for restoring it, but without effect. It continued to diminish more and more till in 1597 1 sterling was equal to 10 Scots. Hence the conversion of victual, which was equal at first to 3 6s. 8d. sterling, came at last in 1601, to be of the value of 2 4s. 5d. In 1601, 1 sterling was equal to 12 Scots, which afterwards continued to be the proportion between English and Scotch money.

In 1616 there was a characteristic petition presented to the Provost and Magistrates by Patrick Murray, for the repair of the Tolbooth:—

Unto your honorable wisdomes schaws your wisdomes servant, Patrik Murray, That quhair the rowff of the foir tolbuith is very ruinous both in the thak and cupillis, for sundrie of the backis off the cupillis are fallin out and at the falling, and great hollis and sclapis in the ruff, which if it be not speedily remedit will comme to uther ruin and decay, and siclyk. Thair is great need of schakillis (shields) for the irons and lokis thairto for sure keiping of the vardours that ar vardit for great crimes. Heirfor it will pleis your wisdomes to cause the treasurer to repair the premisses for eschewing off gretar inconwenienciss.

In 1617 there was a complaint by Gilbert Robertson, skinner in Perth, that the bailies had conceived a deadly hatred against him, because he had obtained letters of exemption against them and an advocation against the Kirk Session of Perth anent a pretended action at the instance of Margaret Johnstone against pursuer. For this they committed him to the Tolbooth, where they kept him without the access of friends or the supply of necessaries except at their discretion. Andrew Conqueror, one of the bailies, appeared for the defenders and exhibited Robertson, and alleged that pursuer had been lawfully imprisoned conform to two decreets against him for not removing from a high "four chalmer" belonging to Conqueror, and for not paying to John Lang, maltman, 6 16s. of principal and expenses. He was committed by the Kirk Session for refusing to satisfy the decreet against him for slandering Margaret Johnstone. Robertson replied that he was willing to find caution, and the Lords ordered the Magistrates to release him, but they assoilzied them from all responsibility for his detention.

The matter of public holidays occupied some attention at this date, and we find the King on 22nd January, 1618, intimating that there should be a universal cessation throughout the kingdom from all kinds of husbandry and hand labour at the holidays following:—

On Christmas day which was the day of the birth of Christ: on Good Friday which was the day of his Passion: on Easter day which was the day of his Resurrection: and on Ascension day and Whitsunday: to the effect that his Majesty's subjects may the better attend the holy exercises in the Kirk. His Majesty ordains proclamation to be made at the mercat crosses of the chief burghs of the kingdom, certifying all and sundry who shall contravene that they shall be punished as rebellious subjects; enemies of the King and his authority.

On 12th August, 1618, Patrick Ross, messenger, and Andrew Johnston, burgess, of Perth, with armed accomplices went about 8 p.m. to John Robertson's working booth, and committed an assault on Robertson and his wife. At 10 p.m. they went to Robertson's house and searched for them. As they departed, they saw Robertson running up the stairs of James Balneave's house. They pursued, and attacked him severely, so that he was mutilated in three fingers of his left hand. He was taken to the surgeon to have his wounds dressed. After his return, he was again assaulted by these men in his own house. They broke open the door, and entered with drawn swords. Robertson would have been slain but for the assistance of neighbours. He and Patrick Ross appeared before the Lords; the other defenders not appearing, the Lords ordered them to be denounced as rebels. We have no explanation why this assault was committed. The presence of a messenger indicates that Robertson was owing money; but the messenger had no right to do what he did, yet it is not recorded that the Lords were displeased with his conduct A transaction of this kind was a grave reflection on the burgh authorities, whose first duty should be to protect the lives of the lieges, and punish severely those who take the law into their own hands.

One of the most graphic incidents which occurred in Perth in the reign of James VI. was the following, as described in a petition, dated 21st January, 1618;—

Petition by the Kings Advocate, the Provost and Bailies of Perth, and John Mathew, Balhousie.

On 1st December, being the public fair and market kept within the burgh called Andrewmas Fair, an unseemly tumult was caused by George Lundy, some time of Gorthie, Guthrie of Kincaldrum, George Graham, son of the Laird of Claverhouse, and others, to the number of nine. They having spent most part of the day in drunkeness issued from a tavern at midnight, and with drawn swords cut down the whole market stands, which were standing, and placed there for the merchants during the market John Mathew, who had been at supper with Andrew Gray, Dean of Guild, and was returning with his servant, a boy, to his own home, was overtaken by the said persons and cruelly used. He and the boy would have been killed, but providentially the common bell was rung, at the sound of which Andrew Conqueror, one of the bailies, came furth of his bed to keep the peace. When he came to them he declared he was one of the bailies, and therefore as representing his Majesty, he commanded them to desist from further pursuing John Mathew and disturbing the peace. They disdainfully disregarded his command, scornfully crying out, "Lay to the carle, the bailie," and they cut his clothes in several parts, tore his coat up the back, and with sticks gave him many black and blue strokes; took from him his halbert and other weapons, and made an open tumult all that night. The affray could not be settled until the inhabitants rose out of their beds and came to the causeway in order to assist the Magistrates in the settling of the tumult1

There is an unquestionable touch of humour about this incident, but what followed on the petition is not recorded.

What is known in history as the Five Articles of Perth created at this time and for years after very considerable excitement, and not a little discussion. Feeling ran high, and the controversy became keen and probably unreasonable. The General Assembly met at Perth on 25th August of this year (1618) to discuss these Articles. It was attended by archbishops, bishops, ministers, and a number of the nobility and gentry. This was the last permitted General Assembly in Scotland till the memorable one at Glasgow in 1638, which overturned these Articles. After the presentation of the King's letter by Young, Dean of Winchester, the Moderator, Archbishop Spottiswoode, rose, and stated that the Five Articles were not his suggestion, as he considered them inexpedient at this particular time. Yet they knew the anxiety of the King on this subject, and warned the members of the consequences if the Articles were rejected. The Moderator then nominated a number of the nobility and gentry, all the bishops and thirty-seven doctors and ministers, as a privy conference, who met in the afternoon to discuss these Articles. These Articles were:—1st, Kneeling when receiving the Communion: 2nd, Administration of the Communion to the sick, dying, or infirm persons, in their houses in cases of urgent necessity: 3rd, The administration of baptism in private under similar circumstances: 4th, The confirmation of the young by the bishop of the diocese: 5th, The observance of the five great commemorations of the Christian Church—the birth, passion, resurrection, ascension, and sending down of the Holy Ghost On the following day the Assembly met at 8 a.m. and the Articles were again debated. On the third and last day a sermon was preached in St John's Church by Mr. Cowper, one of the local ministers, who for supporting the King at the Gowrie Conspiracy was made Bishop of Galloway. The vote was then taken, when the Five Articles were carried by a large majority. On the 21st October they were ratified by the Privy Council, and the King's proclamation authorising them was published at the Mercat Cross of Edinburgh, The Articles were ordered to be read in all the parish churches, and obedience to them enjoined. Several of the Presbyterian ministers opposed them, and were fined or imprisoned, but the Perth ministers agreed to them. Alexander Simpson and Andrew Duncan, ministers who had protested against the Five Articles of Perth, were by order of his Majesty's commissioners imprisoned in Dumbarton Castle, but were released on 10th October, 1621. The meeting of the Estates which sanctioned the Five Articles (4th August, 1621) was called the Black Parliament, because of the fearful tempest of rain that took place during its sittings, accompanied with thunder and lightning and darkness. There was evidently a considerable trade carried on in tobacco in Perth in the olden time, and as appears from the following deliverance of the Privy Council, the people were grossly taken advantage of by a few dealers who simply imposed on them:—

Though the King had forbidden the home-bringing and selling of tobacco within this kingdom at any time after 31st March, 1617, under pain of confiscation of the whole tobacco brought home and of the price of what was sold, nevertheless the following persons have brought home or sold quantities of tobacco (follow list of names), all merchants and burgesses of Perth; each one of them ten stones of tobacco, sold by them at 16s. per ounce. The Lords find in terms of the defenders' oaths of verity that Andrew Brown had bought two and a half pounds of tobacco, and sold it at 6s. 8d. per ounce; Robert Murray had bought a quarter of a pound, and sold it at same price; David Alexander had bought one pound, and sold it at 5s. per ounce; Charles Rollock had bought five pounds, and sold it at 16s. per ounce; and James Simpson had bought eight pounds, and sold it at 12s. per ounce. The Lords order the said sums to be confiscated to the King's use. Six other traders who did not appear were found guilty of buying and selling ten stones of tobacco at 16s. per ounce, and confiscation ordered accordingly.

This ordinance was dated at Holyrood, 22nd July, 1619. This by no means settled the question, as on 16th January, 1621, David Duff, merchant, Perth, lodged a complaint with the Privy Council, objecting to being denounced a rebel at the instance of John, Earl of Mar, treasurer, for not paying 16s. for every ounce of ten stones of tobacco imported and sold by him. He was never lawfully charged to appear, and since the alleged time of importing the tobacco, these men, John Anderson and others, had agreed with Captain William Murray for themselves and him, so that the captain had delivered to them the letters of horning for execution against complainer, who compounded with them, and satisfied them in the matter. The Lords granted suspension. Six months after this, Henry Kinross, advocate, registered a bond of caution by Peter Stoup, merchant, Perth, that Robert Paterson, merchant there, pay to John, Earl of Mar, treasurer, 16s. for every ounce of two stones weight of tobacco, alleged to have been sold by Paterson in terms of decreet of the Lords, at the instance of the King's Advocate, dated 3rd November, 1618. The bond, which contained a clause of relief, was dated at Perth 9th July, 1621, and witnessed by Andrew Ross, son of John Ross, of Craigie, and George Scott, Kinfauns.

PERTH AND DUNKELD. In the matter of the jurisdiction of the Dean of Guild Court, Perth, a misunderstanding arose between the authorities of the two burghs, and there was issued an extract decreet by the Lords of Council in favour of the town of Perth against forestalled of the city of Dunkeld, dated 6th March, 1619:—

In an action by Thomas Robertson and others, citizens of Dunkeld, and Thomas Young and John Patton in Fungert against Andrew Gray, Dean of Guild of Perth, narrating that they have lately been charged by a precept from the said Dean of Guild and William Merser, procurator fiscal, to compeer and answer to a charge of being forestallers of all sorts of victual, hides, skins, wool, horses, other goods within the bounds of the sheriffdom of Perth and freedom of the burgh, and that the Dean and his council intend to proceed against them, although they are not competent judges to the complainers; because (1) They reside in Dunkeld, which is out-with their jurisdiction. (2) Dunkeld is of old erected into a free burgh of barony with the privilege of four public fairs yearly and a weekly market; where all the lieges may buy and sell all kinds of wares and merchandise. If the defenders desire to impugn their title hereto (which can only be done before the Lords of Council and Session) the pursuers offer to prove that the Bishop of Dunkeld has been in use to punish forestallers within his bounds. (3) The act of Parliament ordains that forestallers within the freedom of any burgh may be punished by the officers of that burgh, and that otherwise they have no jurisdiction over such persons. Yet in this case the Dean of Guild cites persons who dwell in another burgh. (1) The pursuers are cited by the Sheriff's precept to appear before the Dean of Guild, which is improper. Therefore this action should be removed from the Dean of Guild and his council to the Lords of Council and dealt with by them. Parties having been cited, the pursuers produced an old charter (which is given at length and of which the following is the purport): Robert, by the grace of God, King of Scots, grants to the church of Dunkeld, and John, Bishop of Dunkeld, his chancellor, in name of the said church and his successors for ever, all right which the King has or can have in the lands which formerly belonged to the church of Dunkeld, seeing that the said lands were in times past alienated from the church without the consent of the king or his predecessors, and still remain in the hands of others, and the king hereby commands all persons interested to give effect to this grant, and answer and obey the said church in respect of these lands. There was also produced a charter by King James the Fourth, ratifying all ancient privileges and liberties granted by his predecessor to the Bishop of Dunkeld and burgh of Dunkeld, and of new erecting Dunkeld into a free city and burgh, with the privilege of a market cross, public markets every Thursday, and public fairs on the feast of St. Columba, and with as ample privileges as are possessed by the burgh of any prelate within the kingdom, and with power to the Bishops of Dunkeld to apprehend, try, and administer justice upon all thieves, sorners, and rebels at the horn within their jurisdiction, and employ the profits thereof to their own use. This charter was granted under the Great Seal at Edinburgh, nth June, 1513. Further, they produced an Act of Parliament made at Perth on 11th July, 1606, whereby the estates confirmed to Peter, Bishop of Dunkeld, and the citizens of Dunkeld all their privileges. The defenders replied as follows: 1. Their first reason of advocation being founded upon a declarator against the judge, ought to be discussed before the Dean of Guild and the Sheriff Principal or his deputies, and cannot competently be discussed here. 2. The summons was directed by the sheriff to the pursuers to compear before the Dean of Guild; and as the fines of all forestalled are by the gift of King Robert expressly appointed for the repair and maintenance of the bridge of Tay, the Dean is not seeking his own profit in this matter. 3. By the two several gifts of King Robert to the burgh of Perth, full liberty was given to the burgh to search for and apprehend all forestalled in any part of the sheriffdom, and to confiscate the goods forestalled by them without license of any judge or minister of law within the realm ; whereas there is no such liberty of punishing forestallers in any of the two charters granted to the Bishop or town of Dunkeld. 4. This matter could only be tried by the burgh of Perth, and not by the Lords of Session, because it must be by a condign assize, 5. The Act of Parliament ratifying the liberties of Dunkeld ratifies no power of apprehending and punishing forestalled within their city and burgh, and is therefore relevant The defenders for verification of these allegations produced the two charters to the burgh of Perth by King Robert by the first of which he gave " full and free power and licence to the committee, burgesses, and, brethir of gild of the burgh of Perth" to arrest all forestalled anywhere within the sheriffdom of Perth, or their liberty, and confiscate their goods, which goods are disponed by His Majesty for the maintenance of the bridge of Perth. This charter bears date 28th February, 1387; and the second charter which is dated 10th May, 1597, is to the same effect The Lords, in respect of these defences, remitted the action of forestalling to the Dean of Guild of Perth with consent of the sheriff principal, and ordained the Dean and Sheriff to proceed and administer justice in the matter as they will answer to the King's Majesty upon the execution of their office, and that notwithstanding the reasons of suspension adduced.

In October, 1619, the town of Dundee had no executioner, and the Provost and Magistrates advised the Privy Council that they had been for some time without one; so that when any criminal was convicted and condemned to death, the Magistrates were put to great trouble before they could get an executioner to carry out the sentence. They said that John Gibson, who had stolen forty-five sheep, and who was committed to the Tolbooth of Dundee, had offered himself for the post to save his life. They were willing to accept him, and desired a warrant relieving them of responsibility for dispensing with his punishment, and exonerating them from blame should he escape from them if, when executioner, he should at any time break away from the Magistrates and leave the said office. The Lords passed an Act in terms of the petition, providing always that John Gibson attends and waits on the office aforesaid all the days of his life, on pain of reapprehension and death.

In municipal matters, a point of some importance was raised by the Privy Council in 1619. This was the question of persons nominated to the provostship being burgesses. The Privy Council disapproved of non-burgesses being elected, and ordained that none should be chosen to be provost of any burgh, but burgesses actually dwelling therein, having trade and business within the same as the Act of Parliament bears. Notwithstanding this, David, Lord Scone, was chosen provost of Perth for that year; Alexander, Lord Livingstone, provost of Linlithgow, and Ogilvie of Banff for the burgh of Banff, which persons accepted the office in contempt of the law and disregard of his Majesty's authority. The Lords of Secret Council ordained these three persons and the Magistrates of the said burghs to appear before them to answer for the violation of the Act of Parliament, and thereafter to hear and see the nomination and election of the persons foresaid to be null; and the Magistrates of these burghs and others having votes in the election of provost decerned to make a new election conform to Act of Parliament under pain of rebellion, etc. From this date only burgesses could be elected chief magistrate.

The lawless condition of Perth in the seventeenth century gave rise to a good deal of crime, the following specimen of which is preserved in the public records. The expression "Thieves' Hole" is one that is rarely used, and doubtless was part of the Tolbooth of Perth. The Lords of the Privy Council having seen the deposition of Henry Miller, tailor, by which he was concerned in the abduction of Elizabeth Henderson, daughter of Andrew Henderson, formerly chamberlain at Scone, committed by William Stewart and others: the Lords find that Miller has committed a detestable offence deserving severe punishment They order the Provost and Magistrates of Perth to commit Miller to ward in their thieves' hole, and to keep him in irons, fed on bread and water, till they give further instructions. In this lawless transaction several persons were concerned. These were William Stewart of Kinnaird and William Stewart, his son, Hugh Stewart, also Thomas and John Stewart, Tullymet, and Duncan Craig, Patrick Fleming, and Henry Cunnison, servants to William Stewart, also David M'Taggart, Boat of Kinnaird. These persons learning that Agnes Rae had gone to Edinburgh on her lawful affairs, and had left her daughter with other children and servants in her house in Perth, came to the house armed between 8 and 9 p.m., forcibly broke open the door, and entered the house, where were only children and two female servants, and carried off one of them—Elizabeth Henderson. They retained her in their keeping, intending to compel her to surrender her estate, and otherwise to abuse her if she refused. Agnes Rae appeared personally before the Lords for herself and daughter; and Thomas, Hugh, and John Stewart also appeared. The Lords, in February, 1620, ordered the defenders who were absent to be denounced as rebels. On 9th March following a commission was issued to the Captain and lieutenant of the King's Guard with consent of the Sheriff and the Provost and Magistrates of Perth to apprehend and present before the Lords William Stewart and his son, Craig, Fleming, Cunnison, M'Taggart and servants, who were denounced rebels for their failure to appear and answer the complaint.

On 19th April following a commission was issued to David, Lord Scone, and others to apprehend these persons. And on 27th July the Lords ordained the lieges not to intercommune with these rebels, to furnish them with nothing whatever during their rebellion, and charging sheriffs, provosts, and magistrates to apprehend them wherever they could be found, and bring them before the Privy Council, in order that they might be tried and punished ; but we have no record of further proceedings.

It would appear that the old road from Perth to Edinburgh, a road that was much frequented in old times by the inhabitants of Perth, as they were daily travellers upon it,evident1y got out of repair, and almost unfit for use. At that time there was no arrangement for the upkeep of roads, and the authorities had to meet emergencies as they best could. In 1621 a petition was presented to the Privy Council by Michael Arnot and others, of Portmoak, stating that this road at the east end of Lochleven, being a common road between St Johnstoun and Edinburgh, is so worn and decayed that it has become impassable for men and horses, so that merchants and others travelling that way are frequently in danger of their lives and goods: some have perished, and sundry horses and goods have been cast away, and if some action be not taken to repair the road, all travelling between St Johnstoun and the ferries would cease. They therefore made this overture to the Lords of the Secret Council: that if the Lords would give them a warrant to collect from each passenger and horse travelling the road the day following at the four market or fair days of St. Johnstoun, viz., Palm Sunday, Midsummer, St John in harvest, and St. Andrew in winter, two pence for each footman, four pence for each horseman, eight days before the said fairs, and eight days after the same, allenarly for the space of one year, they would undertake to repair the road and make it suitable for traffic The Lords found that the repair of the road was necessary, and that the overture was the easiest way to effect that They granted full power and commission to the petitioners to uplift the duties specified.

Highway robbery in the seventeenth century appears to have been common in the neighbourhood of Perth. There is a notable instance recorded. In March, 1622, William M'Intosh, accompanied by William and Andrew M'Vean, foregathering with the complainer, Thomas M'Kay, of Tullybelton, two mile west of Dunkeld, William M'Vean entreated him to accompany him to Perth, which he did. When at Muirton, near Perth, M'Vean began to quarrel with him, and would not allow him to go without satisfaction. With that they put violent hands upon him, and after throwing him to the ground, took from him his purse, containing 400 merks of gold and silver, also his sword. The Lords found M'Intosh guilty of violence, and ordered him to be imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh within fifteen days, under pain of horning.

In the eighteenth century smuggling was very common in Scotland, particularly in the counties of Perth and Fife. The details that are recorded are very few, but we are indebted to Dr. Hill Burton for informing us that about 1720 the seaport towns dotting the coast of Fife were the abodes of bands of daring smugglers, the representatives of the race who, in the previous generation, had been buccaneers in the Indian Seas. One of these, named Wilson, exasperated by frequent seizures and penalties, laid a plan for retaliation by plundering the custom-house at Pittenweem of Government money, and it was boldly executed with the aid of a youth named Robertson. Both were caught, tried, and condemned to death; and the Government being like themselves exasperated, their fate was pronounced inevitable.

They were placed in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, whence they attemped to escape. Two horse-stealers in a floor above them, conniving with the two smugglers, got steel saws and other instruments from accomplices below. They were drawn up by a string, and enabled the horse-stealers to cut the stanchions of their own cell. These men were secured by night in the following way:—A great iron bar fifteen inches in circumference crossed the cell from wall to wall. It was a usual custom, in later times at least, for the prisoner to be fettered to such a bar by a ring which enabled him to move along its length. In this instance, however, the prisoners were linked to perpendicular bars, which supported the great bar in the centre of the room. The arrangement made a weak point in the complex mass of securities. The perpendicular bars passed through the floors, and were tightened by fastenings in the cell below. The smugglers were able to knock these away, a hole was made in the floor, and the five prisoners became one party. They cut the iron stanchions of the window. Whenever any noise, such as that of filing began, other prisoners, who were in league with them, began vehement and loud singing of psalms. One of the horse-stealers escaped; but Wilson, who attempted obstinately to follow, was so bulky a man that he stuck fast in the opening, and rendered discovery inevitable.

The fate of his companion lying far more heavily on his conscience than the robbery of the customhouse, when attending the condemned sermon according to wont in the Tolbooth Church, seizing his opportunity when the congregation were departing, he sprang on the keepers like a tiger, held two with his hands, and one with his teeth, and called to his companion to run. Robertson struck the other keeper down, and mingling with the departing worshippers, who did not care to interrupt such a fugitive, escaped. Wilson's doom became, of course, doubly sure; but it was rumoured that the interest attached to his fate had determined his desperate companions to rescue him. His execution was fixed for the 14th of April, 1736, and precautions were taken to secure the peace of the town, not only by the presence of the city guard, or municipal gendarmerie, at the place of execution, but by the vicinity of a detachment of the Welsh Fusiliers. The smuggling rendezvous at Perth was at Corsiehill, on the west shoulder of Kinnoull Hill.


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