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Perth, the Ancient Capital of Scotland
Chapter XIX


The dawn of the Reformation in 1559 and its subsequent development have long since been matters of history. In that movement Perth played a prominent part; a most important place was the Ancient Capital in those days. In short, it may be said that from the time of Columba it maintained its position not only as the Ancient Capital, but as the great centre of the life of the Scottish nation. Its situation was in some respects an unenviable one, if we may judge from its military experience, for the citizens were constantly on their defence, and constantly harassed by besiegers. From its numerous sieges, the Ancient Capital in a smaller way was not unlike Jerusalem of old. At one time it was held by a French garrison; at another time by an English garrison; at another time by Cromwell, till at last its poor harassed inhabitants, on peace being arranged with England, were thankful to be allowed to "study war no more," and to return to their peaceful avocations. What our brave ancestors suffered during these troublous times we have no means of knowing accurately, for only very brief narratives of leading events have been recorded. The civil war between Catholics and Protestants was vigorously carried on from one generation to another; and while the Reformation was a great factor in the prosecution of this warfare, it greatly accentuated the feeling of animosity which reigned supreme between these two sections until the close of the eighteenth century. At the Reformation, Mary of Lorraine, sometimes called Mary of Guise, widow of James V., was Regent, and was the head of the Catholic party in Scotland, while the general recognition of the Catholic faith was the one object of her life. Notwithstanding this, she was by many Presbyterians regarded as a wise and judicious ruler, while she undoubtedly possessed the confidence of both Catholics and Reformers. The movement which brought about the Reformation quite inadvertently began by the Regent issuing a proclamation requiring her subjects to observe Easter according to the Catholic form.

At this eventful crisis John Knox arrived in Perth on 10th May, 1559. The following day crowds flocked to the church to hear his sermon. St John's was at that date one spacious church without divisions, and its floor was simply earth and stones. Before the speaker arrived the church was full. During the service a number of priests stood in a line in front of the high altar, clothed in gorgeous vestments, as if to overawe the multitude by the splendour with which the altar and its attendants were adorned. The Earl of Argyle and James Stuart, Prior of St. Andrews (afterwards the Regent Moray), withdrew to one of the aisles. John Erskine of Dun, Ogilvie of Inverarity and Scott of Abbotshall advanced with Knox to the foot of the pulpit stair, where room was made for them. Knox preached a powerful sermon on the present and past state of the Church, concluding with a passage in which an angel is represented as casting down a great millstone, exclaiming, "Thus with violence shall Babylon be thrown down," and exhorting the audience to put away the unclean thing from among them. It would appear that Knox, with the attendant lords, withdrew unobserved from the church during the excitement which followed, and for some time the people stood as if expecting Knox again to appear, but he did not In front of an altar, surmounted by an ebony crucifix having a figure of the Saviour, several priests kneeled. The tapers were lit, and as they began a chant, which was responded to by voices in the opposite aisle, a curtain behind the crucifix slowly rose, disclosing the scene of the martyrdom of St Bartholomew. "Down with the profane mummery!" cried one of the audience. "Blaspheme!" responded another, and struck the other to the ground. This individual lifted a stone, and throwing it at the priest, it struck the altar, and broke in pieces an image. The crowd in the choir rushed towards the shrine of St Bartholomew, the balustrade gave way, and ere the priests got up they were trampled upon, the altar overthrown, the pictures torn from the wall, and the ornaments wrenched from their places and demolished. Other altars shared the same fate, and within an hour or two the invaluable contents of the interior were destroyed. Considering the highly unpretentious nature of this monastery, especially the building, this large stock of wines and food stuffs was a great surprise. The mob then made for the Greyfriars Monastery, but they found that another mob had already destroyed it. "Alas," said one man to another, "they go to the Chartreuse, that princely edifice, the glory of Scotland, the pride of Perth; the Queen will go mad. Something must be done. Surely their hands may be stayed." The Charterhouse met the same fate, excepting that the conservatory above the vault with its famous gateway was alone saved of all the monastic buildings of Perth. This gateway was removed to and was long deemed the chief ornament of St John's Church, but has long since disappeared. The Greyfriars Monastery was well equipped. Their stock of napery and blankets is said to have been the finest in Scotland. There were but eight persons in this monastery, yet they had no less than eight puncheons of salt beef, wine, beer, and ale, besides stores of victual. Within two days these great monasteries were so destroyed that the walls only remained.

The Regent was not slow to take advantage of these unlawful proceedings. She summoned the nobility and gentry to Stirling, represented to them that the Reformers were rebels whose object was not religion but to subvert the authority of Government. Notwithstanding her promise to John Erskine of Dun, she raised an army and resolved to give battle to the Reformers at Perth. Her troops probably numbered 5,000, and she halted some days at Auchterarder en route. The Reformers wrote her denying that they meant to subvert the authority of the Government, and at the same time requested their friends all over the country to come to their support The Regent began to waver at the formidable opposition, and sent Argyle and Lord James Stuart to effect an amicable arrangement. This was done, the conditions being that both armies should disperse; that the inhabitants should not be molested in their religion, and that the French should not enter the town. These terms being arranged, her commissioners, who had signed the convention, returned to Auchterarder. Three days afterwards the Regent broke this treaty, marched from Auchterarder to Perth, entered the town on 29th May with a French force under D'Oysel, commander in chief, dismissed Lord Ruthven, the Provost, and the rest of the Magistrates, and put Charteris of Kinfauns in Ruthven's place. The Regent was attended by several of her leaders, and by the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Atholl, the Earl Marischal, D'Oysel, the French commander, and many others, with an escort of French musketeers. To the sound of music the Regent approached the Highgate port, the gate of which was thrown open, revealing a crowded street beyond. There she received the keys of the surrendered city from Lord Ruthven and the Magistrates, along with whom stood Argyll and the Lord James. Every available spot in the neighbourhood, including windows, stairs, and balconies, was crowded with spectators. It is said that she looked anxious and careworn, and though the charm of her beauty remained, her eye had lost the sparkle of other days. She was at this date only forty years of age, and is said to have been a captivating woman, and rode majestically through the streets on horseback in the midst of her ladies and lords, bishops, and military escort The sight of her French soldiers smothered the enthusiasm of the citizens. Whether she lodged in the Blackfriars Monastery or in the Provost of Methven's house (exchanged with James IV. for the lands of Busbie) is not recorded. A curious incident occurred on this occasion. When the Regent's French escort were passing along the streets they indulged in a little musket firing, and a shot accidentally struck a boy, who was son of Murray of Tibbermore, and killed him. The Regent, on being told of the occurrence, is reported to have said: "It is a pity it chanced on the son, and not on the father; but as it has chanced I cannot help fortune." The Regent has been blamed for these remarks, but considering the circumstances of the time, we cannot blame her. It was an arbitrary proceeding to remove Ruthven from the Provostship, and appoint Charteris of Kinfauns. She remained a few days in Perth, and left a French garrison of 600 to defend it against the Reformers. As soon as she had gone, Argyll, the Lord James, Ruthven, and others, who considered she had committed a breach of faith with them in leaving this garrison, left Perth and went to St Andrews. The Regent ordered their immediate return, but they promptly refused as a mark of displeasure at her treacherous behaviour* This decision meant war. Knox went over to St Andrews the following Sunday and preached against idolatry from the passage that describes our Saviour driving the buyers and sellers from the temple. On this occasion the congregation, headed by the authorities of St. Andrews, went out of the church and levelled to the ground some of the monastic buildings there. The Regent, who with her troops had gone from Perth to Falkland, gave orders when she heard of this to march immediately on St Andrews. Argyll and Stuart, who headed the Reformers, mustered their supporters, and on the 12th June 3,000 had assembled under their standard on Cupar Moor. The Regent began to get timid, and a truce of eight days was ultimately agreed to by both parties. By that truce the Regent was to retire to Falkland; Frenchmen were to leave Fife with certain exceptions, and commissioners from the Regent were to meet the Lords of the Congregation to arrange terms of peace. When the stipulated time came, no commissioners arrived, and Argyll and Stuart wrote the Regent remonstrating with her for breaking the convention, and, receiving no answer, they resolved to drive the forces of the Regent out of Perth. The Reformers therefore assembled their troops in the vicinity of Perth on the 24th June, and demanded of Provost Charteris admission to the town; that the French garrison should instantly leave it; the true religion to be maintained as formerly, and idolatry suppressed. On his refusal the town was again summoned to surrender, but all in vain. Consequently, on 25th June, at 10 p.m., the batteries were opened by Lord Ruthven in the west, and by a Dundee contingent in the east The Regent sent no assistance to the garrison, and the town surrendered to the Reformers the following day. The Bishop of Moray resided at the palace of Scone at this period. The Dundee contingent formed part of the retinue of the Reformers, and were determined enemies of the Catholics: one of their number being killed, they blamed the bishop as being the cause of it, and a quarrel ensued. They immediately went out to the Abbey, and pulled down the altars, ornaments, and images. Knox and the Provost of Dundee followed them to restrain their fury, and being anxious to save the palace and abbey Argyll and Stuart were sent for, who drew off the mob and induced them to return to Perth. Next morning the Dundee contingent again went out with the view of spoil, when they and the bishop's servants quarrelled, a scuffle took place, and a Dundee man was again killed. Some citizens of Perth were sent for, who immediately went out to aid Dundee. The result was that the palace and abbey were attacked and set on fire. Knox and the leading Reformers did all they could to prevent this, but it was of no avail. Argyll and Stuart, with 300 followers, had left Perth for Stirling the previous night on their return from Scone, to cir-cumvent the Regent, who proposed putting a garrison there. These men arrived at Stirling next morning, and found religious houses and every Catholic monument destroyed. They pledged themselves to prosecute the cause of the Reformation against all opposition. In proof of this each of the 300 put a rope round his neck instead of ribands, thereby meaning that whoever deserted the colours should be hanged by these ropes. Hence arose the expression "St. Johnstoun Ribands." The Regent, who had reached Edinburgh, retired to Dunbar, while the Reformers went to Edinburgh. Lord Seton, the Provost, who was a Catholic, had abandoned it, and all its religious houses had also been destroyed. The Reformers were induced to seek help from England, while the Regent got assistance from France.

In January, 1560, a treaty was concluded between Queen Elizabeth and the congregation (the Reformers), called the Treaty of Berwick, and its negotiation appears to have been quite ludicrous. The Scots were always very jealous of England, and on this occasion they would not cross the border to discuss the treaty, but met the English by appointment on benches erected in the middle of the river Tweed, which was the natural boundary, and where the business was transacted. The details would have been interesting, but they have not been preserved. Some months after this the Regent, who was with her forces at Leith, sick and wearied with anxieties, was taken, when the siege of Leith began, to Edinburgh Castle, and died there on 10th June, 1560. It is a curious fact that she sent for James Stuart, and spoke in a penitent spirit of all that had happened, and even permitted Willock, one of the persecuted preachers, to converse with her on religious matters. On her death-bed she showed that magnanimity and generous feeling which her remarkable race could assume on all fitting occasions; so much so that she left a profound impression even on the hard minds of the sturdiest of the Reformers. The Regent and her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, were very devoted to each other, and the demise of the Regent was a great shock to the young queen. She arrived from France on 1st August, and from that date our local and national history became full of thrilling events. The Stuarts resided a considerable part of their life in the Castle of Perth, and occasionally in Blackfriars Monastery, and it is much to be regretted that so little of the life of that period has been recorded, or if recorded has been lost. The proceedings at Perth which brought about the Reformation created immense sensation not only in England and Scotland, but all over Europe. It caused the downfall of the Catholic religion as the national religion, and from that date the Reformed Church has maintained its position as the national church. We come now to an event of a different nature.

There is in the Register of the Privy Council a rather amusing incident under date Perth, 26th April, 1564, in the reign of Queen Mary.

A petition was presented to the Lords of Council and Session by Andrew Rollo of Duncrub, stating that he had sundry actions depending before the sheriff at Perth, but that he could not get the sheriff to proceed with them. Patrick, Lord Ruthven, Sheriff of Perth, compeered before their lordships and alleged that neither could he deliver the evidence required nor proceed in the actions, by reason of the controversy standing between the persons pretending to have interest or title in the Sheriff-clerkship. James M'Breck of Campsie, alleged heritable Sheriff - Clerk of Perth, also compeered, and produced a precept of the Privy Council of the gift of the office made to him by the Regent, declaring that he had substituted John Muschet as depute under him in that office, and had taken his oath in the Sheriff Court held in the Tolbooth of Perth on the nth April. John Drummond also compeered, and produced an assignation made by James M'Breck, making and constituting Alexander M'Breck, his son, his assignee in the office of sheriff clerk, with assignation by Sir Robert Rollo, of 2nd May, 1560, where it is narrated at greater length; also an instrument of the intimation of the assignation to Patrick, Lord Ruthven, Sheriff of Perth, and of the assignation by Alexander M'Breck to James Drummond of the said office. There was also produced the assignation by Alexander M'Breck, assignee, with consent of Sir Robert Rollo, his curator, and James Drummond and his substitutes of the Sheriff Clerkship of Perth for nine years immediately following the feast of Michaelmas preceding the date of the assignation, 12th and 13th April, alleging that he had been in possession of the office for the last three years, and desiring in respect of his possession, and title produced, that he be continued in the office. The Sheriff stated that neither James M'Breck nor any of his deputes had right to the office, but that the right thereof should belong to him as Sheriff to place Clerks of Court whereof it behoved him to answer and be responsible to the Crown.

The Lords of the Secret Council ordained parties to pursue their rights and interest before the Lords of Session; and Patrick, Lord Ruthven, and the deputes to proceed and do justice to the action, and James Drummond to have the office of Sheriff-Clerk in respect of his present possession thereof being lawfully put there without prejudice to the party having the best right, and obtaining the office before the Lords of Session. The Lords ordained James M'Breck to deliver to James Drummond the Sheriff Court books and all writings concerning that office, that the same may be available to the Sheriff and his deputes and all parties having interest therein. James Drummond was ordained to find sufficient caution and surety for delivery of these to James M'Breck in case of eviction from office before the Lords of Session.

Half a century after this, or in 1614, the same question again came to the front in the form of an ordinance from the King, but we have no prior debate recorded. The office was no doubt a lucrative one at that period, and its possessor had considerable influence both in town and county. This ordinance was as follows:—

Edinburgh, 24th, April, 1614,—Forasmuch as the King is creditably informed that James Drummond, Sheriff Clerk of Perth, is not only so old that he is altogether unable to discharge the duties of that office, but that he and Harry Drummond, his son, who pretends to have right to the office, are so often, and at the instance of several parties, denounced rebels, that it is undesirable that they should be employed as ministers of justice in any position whatever. Therefore the Lords of Secret Council ordain James and Harry Drummond, who pretend to have right to the Sheriff Clerkship, as also William, Earl of Tullibardine, Sheriff-Principal of the County, to appear personally before their Lordships on the 17th May next; James Drummond and his son to answer to the premises and to bring with them sufficient letters of relaxation from the hornings which they underlie whereby it may be understood by the Lords if they as lawful and obedient subjects do serve in the said office, and if for their ability, knowledge, and judgment, they are worthy to be continued therein; and if the Drummonds or any of them be visited with sickness so that they cannot appear, then they may do so by a procurator sufficiently instructed to answer for them. The Earl to inform the Lords of the true state of that office and to receive the Lords' directions for the appointment of sufficient and qualified deputes to serve therein and to accept of such sheriff clerk as shall be recommended by His Majesty or the said Lords. All this under pain of rebellion and putting of these persons to the horn. James Drummond and his son, if they appear not on the day named, a qualified person shall be preferred to the office and they shall be debarred and removed therefrom.

At this point the matter seems to have terminated, for we find nothing further recorded.

Whatever may have been the extent to which superstition prevailed in times when the great mass of the population were very illiterate, and many of the nobility unable to read, far less write, it is believed that the moral condition of Scotland was not after the Reformation greatly renovated by the Reformed preachers who succeeded the deposed clergy. This, however, may be a debatable question, and one on which intelligible arguments can be put forward on both sides; but the ecclesiastical condition Scotland for long after this period did not tend to edification.

The Reformation was succeeded by twelve years of bitter animosity amongst the inhabitants—the Reformers and their supporters on one side, and the Catholics on the other. Apart from the question of religion, this period included some of the most astounding events that have happened in Scottish history, e.g., the Riccio and Darnley murders, the thrilling events in the reign of Queen Mary, her seizure at Carberry Hill and imprisonment at Lochleven, her flight into England, and the assassination of the Regent Moray. The condition of the Realm was lamentable; something like anarchy prevailed, while the Government was notoriously weak. The Regents Moray, Lennox, Mar, and Morton all came to an untimely end; and all of them, from their avaricious conduct, were incapable of being at the head of the Administration. The result, as might be expected, was that the kingdom was rent with internal troubles, every man practically being a law unto himself. The King was a boy mentally and physically, a fact which accentuated the situation.

When this unfortunate state of matters exhausted itself, the Earl of Argyll, who was probably the strongest man of the period, and appears to have carefully and anxiously considered the situation, drew up along with his companions a very able and a very remarkable document, known in history as "The Pacification of Perth." This paper was eminently called for; and though it is not recorded in as many words, there is no doubt it was greatly instrumental in securing peace, and in restoring the country to its normal condition. A Privy Council meeting was held at Perth on 23rd February, 1572: present, Archibald, Earl of Argyll, Lord Chancellor, John, Earl of Montrose, Master of Graham, William, Lord Ruthven, Robert, Lord Boyd, and many others. It was convened for the purpose of discussing the removal of the public troubles and civil war which had so long continued. This paper was in the following terms:—

All persons who claim to enjoy any benefits from the Pacification and of the King's favour and pardon, shall acknowledge and profess the confession of the Christian faith and true religion of Jesus Christ now preached in this realm, established and authorised by law and by Acts of Parliament in the first year of the King's reign, and to the utmost of their power shall maintain and assist the true preachers and professors of the Word of God against all enemies whatever, and against all such of whatever realm who bound themselves to execute the cruel deeds of the Council of Trent called by adversaries of God's truth the Holy League. The Earl of Huntly, Lord John Hamilton, and others, shall submit themselves to the King's obedience and to the government of James, Earl of Morton, Regent, and other Regents during the King's minority, and in all time coming recognise the King's authority, and such of them as have a vote in Parliament to give assistance thereto.

All persons professing obedience, and dispossessed of their property, shall be restored to their property and lands. For execution hereof letters to be addressed within six days after the charge to the Regent, so that things promised shall be performed at the sight and discretion of John, Earl of Montrose, Lord Glamis, and John Wishart of Pitarro for acts committed north of the Tay. They to sit in the burgh of Perth. Robert, Lord Boyd, Mark, Commendator of Newbattle, and Sir John Bellenden for acts committed south of the Tay. They to sit in Edinburgh. Parties charged under the Pacification to get a year and a day to submit.

Forasmuch or for the better assurance of the persons now returning to obedience and observing the conditions, specified pledges have been required, as also caution and sureties for their obedience in time coming. The Earl of Huntly and Lord John Hamilton, at the request of Sir Henry Killigrew, the English ambassador, referred themselves to the discretion of the Regent regarding the delivery of these pledges. It is agreed that by act of Parliament it shall be decerned and declared that sentences passed by forfault, as well as hornings and penalties following thereupon against George, Earl of Huntly, the Hamiltons, and others, before the Regent and Lords of the Privy Council, shall not be executed, but be void and of none effect, without any process of reduction thereupon.

By Act of Parliament it shall be declared that all persons returning to their obedience, or for crimes committed in the said common cause since 15th June, 1567, shall be restored to their possessions and friends to enjoy the same as formerly. (15th June was the engagement at Carberry Hill, when the Queen was seized and imprisoned.)

As touching the article requiring that an Act of Parliament shall pass declaring these persons to be discharged of all crimes or offences whatever committed by them since 15th June, 1567, the same is agreed to, saving in so far as it may extend to the murders of the Regent Moray and the Regent Lennox, which are matters of so serious importance that the Regent himself cannot remit them. But it is agreed touching the remission of these murders being moved by the persons craving remission from the Queen of England, that the Regent, with the advice of Parliament, shall perform, observe, and fulfil the same. Which remission in form of Act of Parliament, subscribed by the Clerk Register, shall be good and sufficient as if given under the Great Seal. If any person desire remission for crimes committed before 15th June, 1567, the same shall be granted, the murder of the King's father and other murders, fire raising, theft, incest, and witchcraft excepted.1

No horning for payment of debts executed against persons returning to the King's obedience during the troubles shall be available. This Pacification shall be a sufficient relaxation from all horning as if they were specially relaxed. Subscribed by

Argyll. Ruthven.
Huntly. R. Boyd.
Montrose. R. Dunfermline.
J. H. Arbroath. Bellenden.

Six months after the issue of this official document, we find the Commendator of Aberbrothock, a man who might be expected to lead an exemplary life, assuming an entirely new profession and becoming a common pirate or thief. This will be fully understood from the following narrative, dated from Stirling Castle, 15th September, 1572:—

On the 25th August last, sundry of the inhabitants of Dundee, returning from Bartholomew Fair, believing no evil of any person but to live in peace as the lieges of his Majesty. Notwithstanding this, George, Commendator of Aberbrothock, accompanied by a great number of hagbutters and others, living in fear of war, took by force certain of the inhabitants prisoners, viz., Robert and David Jack, Thomas Rattray, his son, and John Crieghton, with their goods and gear, and carried them away to Aberbrothock, and there detained them prisoners until they could find caution each one of them in a penalty of 200 merks, and that they should surrender again, as they should be required, on three days' notice. The Commendator, not content with the wrong and the injury committed by him, on the 27th of the same month came to the mouth of the Earn near St. Johnstoun accompanied in the manner aforesaid, and seized a boat laden with sundry Dundee merchants' goods as it was passing up the river to St. Johnstoun to the market and fair called St John's Fair, carried the same away, to the value of five or six thousand merks, whereby the owners of these goods were utterly robbed. These, for the most part, were goods they had to sell to obtain susten-tation for themselves, their wives and children. The Commendator chased sundry other boats passing up the river, shot hagbutts and daggers at the persons therein, and wounded William Gold and several others to the effusion of blood. He daily and continually awaited not only their slaughter, but the seizing of their goods and gear in contempt of the King's authority and laws, thereby setting an evil example to others to do the same if this be suffered to remain unpunished.

The Commendator was ordained to deliver the goods seized by him and his accomplices, to any one of the owners of the same having authority, within twenty-four hours after this charge, or else compeer personally before the Regent and Lords of Secret Council the third day after the charge and answer to the complaint, and also to undergo such other order as should be declared against him for the welafre of the country under pain of rebellion and putting him to the horn, with certification in case of failure to put him to the horn, and forfeit all his movable goods to the King. The Commendator not compeering, the Regent ordained the Sheriffs in that part of the country to denounce him as a rebel, and put him to the horn and escheat his goods, etc.

Prior to 1286 the merchants of Perth carried on an extensive trade with the Netherlands and visited the Hanse towns in their own ships. The Germans very early frequented the port of Perth, and many of them settled in the town, were made burgesses, and are said to have introduced the manufacture of linen and woollen goods and the staining and dyeing of cloth. William the Lion declared them to be disqualified to be burgesses, and placed a prohibitive duty on their manufactures. It is undoubted that in early times a large commercial trade was carried on here. The choice position of Perth and its abundant supply of trading vessels aided materially in promoting its commercial importance. One of its principal manufactures was gloves, and these were famous over the kingdom. Above 30,000 pairs were made and sold annually. This appears to have continued till the Rebellion of 1745, when a more brisk trade in tanning and currying set in. This trade, but in a smaller way, had been going on for centuries, and gave the name of the street to the Skinnergate. The manufacture of cotton fabrics, imitation Indian shawls, scarfs, umbrella ginghams, etc., was largely carried on. The number of hand-looms was at one time 2400. The spinning of flax and the making of fabrics of mixed cotton and wool were also carried on. For many years there is said to have been a flourishing shipbuilding trade, also iron-working, paper-making, bleaching, brewing, and distilling. There was also an oil mill which stood at the Castle Gable, and eventually in 1751 was sold to the town. It is described as being part of the ground of the "malt barn lying on the east side of the Castle Gable, and now forming part of the highway between the oil mill and saw mill now turned into a lint mill, and the North Inch."

There was a cotton mill at Stanley, another at Cromwell Park, another at Stormontfield, and another at Luncarty. There were also four bleach-fields—viz., Luncarty, Huntingtower, Tulloch, and Stormontfield. At the two former, above sixty acres at each work was sometimes covered with linen. The manufacture of boots and shoes brought in an annual revenue of 8,000, chiefly from London. In tanning, from 4,000 to 5,000 hides, and about 500 dozen calf skins were put through annually, yielding a revenue of 10,000. There was a paper mill in the neighbourhood at one period, producing annually 10,000 reams of paper; 8,000 reams blue paper, cartridge, brown, etc. The revenue from this was estimated at 8,000, chiefly for the London market The Salmon Fishings yielded 7,000 per annum, of which the town of Perth received 1,000. A smack sailed for London every four days from Perth Harbour. These vessels returned with porter, cheese, groceries, for consumpt in the town. The mills belonging to the burgh were rented at 800 per annum. The exports were small, but the imports then amounted to 30,000 per annum, the largest portion being for flax and flax seed. In shipping, 209 vessels cleared out in 1781, and 319 in 1791. In 1781, the arrivals were 518 vessels, and in 1791, 887. The latter increase was owing to the improvements in agriculture, as 360 of them later carried limestone. The opening of railways in the succeeding century almost annihilated the shipping trade at the port of Perth.

At a later period, viz., in 1794, Mr. John Young, by order of the Perth Literary and Antiquarian Society, reported as follows on the trade of Perth:—

The staple manufacture of Perth is linen, and of late a considerable quantity of cotton cloth. There are above 1,500 looms employed in the town and suburbs, and the manufacture of linen and cotton annually amounts to 100,000 sterling. Besides this, there is at least 120,000 more in value of linen purchased in Perth market by the dealers. The different fabrics may be allocated as follows:

There were three printfields in the vicinity, viz., Ruthvenfield (Young, Richardson & Caw); Cromwell Park (Melliss & Co.); Tulloch (Sandeman, Lindsay & Co.). The turnover of these was estimated at 80,000 per annum.

The following is an interesting account of the state and condition of the Common Good of the town of Perth, made up by the Magistrates to the Commissioners appointed by the Forty-First Act of the Convention of Burghs in July, 1699, to visit and report on the condition of the burgh of Perth:—

The finances of the town have developed into huge dimensions since this state of affairs was made up. At that period the ravages of war and the scarcity of victual had a depressing effect on the people, and doubtless affected the revenue. There was also the decay of trade and the oppressive quartering of the soldiers on the inhabitants, which made it necessary in 1700 for the authorities to present the following petition to Parliament:—

That whereas these several years past we have beside the calamities of war and dearth which were common to us with others of the kingdom suffered most seriously as being the place where the greatest confluence of his Majesty's forces did meet and lie for reducing the Highlands and maintaining the peace of the country where though the prices which we had at the easiest rates of the kingdom have been and do yet continue to be at a greater height with us than any of the neighbouring burghs, and besides the decay of our trade in those things that were the native product of this place we do extremely suffer by reason of the prohibition of carrying to France our salmon which are a considerable part of the common good and stock of the burgh. All which calamities we have patiently endured without complaining, hoping daily that the effects of the peace would appear and put an end to all the miseries we have groaned under, and that the hopes and encouragements we look for from his Majesty's generous promises, acts of Parliament, and letters patent for carrying on the trade of the nation would compensate for our sufferings. And yet under all these hardships forces are kept on foot and a considerable part of them quartered on us to our great disadvantage; officers contrary to law taking free quarters rather than paying for themselves and their bearing is generally hard and indiscreet to the Magistrates and beating our burgesses and town sergeants, and some of their sentinels guilty of theft and robbery, and the trade in which we are engaged day by day meets with repeated hindrances and obstructions. Seeing that we have his Majesty's repeated promises for the enlargement of our trade, as also his letters patent, and acts of Parliament establishing the African and Indian company, and his Majesty's letter to the present Parliament, wherein he regrets his kingdom's loss, and is pleased to promote all favour and protection to his subjects in their trade; we are encouraged to entreat that it may please your grace and the estates of Parliament to take the premises into your serious consideration and find out proper and effectual methods for asserting the honour and independence of the kingdom . . . and that trading with France may be discontinued until they take off the prohibition of importing our herring and salmon there: as also to discontinue the export of cloth, that manufacturers at home may be encouraged and the poor employed: also the import of all English cloth, silk and woollen, and the weaving thereof in the nation: at least until the imposition laid upon our linen cloth in England be taken off. And to relieve our country of so great a number of troops which are so burdensome and uneasy to the people, and resolve on such other methods for securing the peace and support of the government as may be necessary for the welfare of the kingdom.

Considering the circumstances in which the authorities of Perth were placed, this was a wise and most necessary communication. There is no evidence of any result, but nevertheless the petition would have its influence in the subsequent procedure of Parliament Living as we do in an enlightened and civilised age, we do not appreciate the struggles of our ancestors and what they had to contend against in those troublous times. This petition is well expressed and cannot be misunderstood. And again, the inhabitants of Perth at that period were poor and humble in circumstances, and the persistent quartering of soldiers year after year on a community of industrious people cannot be regarded as anything but an oppressive and intolerable burden and one calling for the attention of Parliament

The following is a curious illustration of our local government 200 years ago :—

The Commissioners of Justiciary for securing the peace of the Highlands considering that Donald M'Donald and other prisoners in the Tolbooth of Perth were by verdict of the inquest returned guilty of death; the Commissioners have commuted their punishment into perpetual servitude. The Commissioners hereby give and gift Donald M'Donald, as a perpetual servant to John, Earl of Tullibardine recommending his Lordship to provide a collar of brass, iron, or copper, which by his sentence is to be upon his neck, with this inscription: 'Donald M'Donald found guilty of death for theft, at Perth, 5th December, 1701, and gifted as a perpetual servant to John, Earl of Tullibardine.' The Commissioners have ordained the magistrates of Perth and keeper of the Tolbooth to deliver M'Donald to the Earl of Tullibardine having the said collar and inscription conform to the sentence of doom.

Another illustration of local government of a very different kind was this: It was ordained by the Council that carts whose wheels were shod with iron were to be prohibited from coming into the town, as prejudicing the causeway and diggings, under a penalty of 40s.

In 1706 the union of the Parliaments in the reign of Queen Anne occupied great attention at Town Council meetings, so much so that no less than two petitions were sent from Perth to London against the Union. These petitions are interesting reading, and represent in clear and unequivocal language the feeling that existed on that great national question. The first petition from the Magistrates and inhabitants was as follows:—

That the Magistrates, Town Council, and inhabitants of Perth having seen and considered the articles of union now before Parliament, in which, among other things, it is agreed by the Commissioners of both kingdoms that Scotland and England shall be united into one kingdom and that the United Kingdom be represented by one and the same Parliament; we after mature deliberation are fully convinced that such a union as is proposed is contrary to the honour, interest and fundamental laws and conditions of this kingdom and to the Claim of Right and to the 3rd Act of Her Majesty's Parliament of 1703; and inconsistent with the birthright of the peers, rights and privileges of the Barons and Burgesses, and may greatly endanger our Church government and bring insupportable debts and obligations on the subjects of this kingdom.

Second Petition.

The Address of the Magistrates and Council of Perth for themselves and in name of the whole other burgesses and inhabitants thereof.

Humbly Showeth,—That we having seriously thought upon the important concern of the union of the two kingdoms as contained in the articles now published, we think it our duty humbly to offer our thoughts: This albeit we sincerely affect peace and a good understanding with our neighbours of England. Yet the concluding of a Union as proposed and moulded in these articles is prejudicial to the true interest of this kingdom tending to the destruction of our venerable constitution, independence, sovereignty, and all its rights and privileges, to every person and society within the same especially that of the Burghs: and to shake loose the government of the church as by law established and endanger our religion. For the defence of which this place has on all occasions signalised itself: and to put trade, the great interest of the burgh, under the heaviest burdens, taxes, and impositions without any Parliament to hear and help us, except that of the British one whose interest as we may perceive will never dispose them to favour our prosperity where they can pretend but an imaginary loss by our gain,

Therefore we humbly and earnestly supplicate and confidently expect that your Grace and the Estates of Parliament will not conclude such an incorporating Union so destructive and dangerous to the nation in all its liberties, sacred and civil: but that for the satisfaction of Her Majesty's subjects ye will be pleased so to settle the state and condition of this nation that our religion, the government of the church as now by law established, the sovereignty and independence of the kingdom, the rights and being of our Parliaments, due regulation of trade with encouraging cases of the duties upon it may all be so firmly established and secured that it may be put beyond danger of subversion or trouble in time to come.

(Here follow signatures.)

In 1708 the first Parliament after the Union met at Westminster. Joseph Austen, Provost of Perth, was elected Member for this district of burghs. He was appointed to go to the other four burghs and receive their commands. Two of the bailies were instructed to attend him there. It is not recorded how long Provost Austen represented the burghs in Parliament, but in 1712 Provost Yeaman, of Perth, M.P. for the burghs, applied to Parliament to have barracks erected at Perth for the relief of the inhabitants (evidently the quartering of the soldiers on the people had become intolerable). The next momentous event in the history of Perth was the Rebellion of 1715, which we have recorded in the next chapter.

The civil and military authorities in 1718 came into collision with respect to the trial and punishment of a soldier, and the Magistrates, who were not prepared to have their authority overruled by the military, referred the matter to the Lord Justice Clerk, in a letter dated 15th October, 1718, as follows:

Though we do not incline to trouble your Lordship with ordinary matters, yet we must ask leave to lay before you the enclosed precognition concerning the death of one of the inhabitants. The accident troubles us the more that the soldier who killed the man has made his escape, which would have been prevented had he been delivered over to the Magistrates. But the friends of the man, understanding that when upon other occasions the Magistrates endeavoured to bring the soldier to be tried by them for crimes and misdemeanours were so opposed by the military that they made no application to the Magistrates in the case, but to an officer of the regiment, and what was done thereupon, and what was done next day after the commission of the deed, is set down in the pre-cognition, and unknown to the Magistrates. On the Sunday after, the Magistrates being informed of the dangerous condition in which the man was, called his friends and inquired concerning the matter.

Next day they informed the colonel of the regiment and desired him to commit the soldier, and keep him safely till the matter should be tried. Accordingly he was apprehended and put into the guard, and witnesses called. Brigadier Preston informed the Magistrates that he would not allow officers or soldiers to be tried and punished by them except for murder, burglary, or theft. Evidently the Magistrates were obliged to accept the inevitable, as there is no entry showing the result of this appeal.


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