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The History of Sanquhar
Chapter VII.—Municipal


1. Early History of the Burgh

FROM early times there existed in Scotland burghs of four different kinds—burghs of regality, burghs free, burghs of barony, and royal burghs. In the year 1484, Sanquhar was created a burgh of barony, a corporation, that is, embracing the inhabitants thereof, and governed by magistrates. These magistrates were, however, in many cases, under the control of the lord of the barony. The dignity and privileges of royal burghs were superior to those of any other order of burgh ; it was, therefore, a matter of pride and ambition on the part of other burghs to attain the rank of a burgh royal. That could only be accomplished by a royal charter, granted on application by the inhabitants.

One essential condition of the erection of a free royal burgh is set forth in the Stornoway case in 1628. The attention of the Convention of Royal Burghs of that year was directed to the fact that the King, at the instigation of the Earl of Seyforth had granted his sign manual to- the erection of Stornway as “ane frie brugh royall.” The Convention resolved to petition his Majesty to cancel the charter, on this ground among others:—“The said burgh of Stronway can not be erected an frie brugh royall efter the maner conteynit in the signature thairof, becaus it is against the daylie practique and lawis of this cuntrey, quhairbv thair aucht to be no burgh royall bot whair the haill bounds and lands quher-vpone the same is buildit, with the biggings and borrow mids thairof is of his Maiesties propertie allanerlie, and being erected in ane frie royaltie sould hold of his Maiestie in frie burgage ... so that the inhabitants can have no vthers overs lord or mediat superior bot his Maiestie allanerlie, &c.” The objection to Stornoway was that it was held in feu from the Earl of Seyfort, and we find that, after negotiation on the subject, the King granted the petition of the Convention, and cancelled the charter which he had been induced to grant.

The usual form of charter was of such a kind as to confer upon the burgesses or citizens the exclusive right of trading within the burgh, and (what must have been highly prized in those times, when the general population was so thoroughly at the mercy of the feudal barons) the right of criminal jurisdiction. A perusal of the Sanquhar Charter which follows will shew how extensive this jurisdiction was, embracing, as it did, the trial of all offences, even those of the gravest character, and carrying with it the power of inflicting capital punishment. It can be readily understood how highly the citizens would regard the right of being tried, not by a petty tyrant, ignorant, capricious, and cruel, but by the magistrates of their own town. The fact is, that these royal burghs were fostered and encouraged by the Scottish sovereigns as a counterpoise to the feudal power possessed by the nobles and barons, which was so great as to render them almost, and at certain times altogether, independent of the crown. It was in the burghs, too, that arts and manufactures were first practised, and exclusive privileges of trading were conferred on the burgesses or citizens. The idea of citizenship was derived from the Roman occupation, and reminds ns of the occasion when St. Paul, threatened with scourgiug, claimed exemption on the ground of his citizenship. “Civis Romaiius sum ” was a claim which no outside authority dared to disregard or treat otherwise than with the highest respect. In addition to the valuable local privileges and immunities enjoyed by royal burghs, they also, from a very early time, were possessed of political rights, through their representation in the Scottish Parliament. This representation is mentioned for the first time in the Parliament of King Robert the Bruce, held at Cambuskenneth in 1326. There is reason to believe, however, that they may have been present at the Parliaments of 1314 and 1315, and 1318, and certainly some of the burghs were parties to the treaty with France in 1295.

The Royal Burghs in Scotland in early times entered into combinations for mutual advice and support, one of these, known as the House, comprising the burghs north of the Grampians; those in the south being presided over by the Great Chambprlain of the kingdom. This association included at first only Edinburgh, Stirling, Berwick, and Roxburgh, the place of the two last-named, which had fallen into the hands of the English, being taken, in 1368, by Lanark and Linlithgow. The four burghs met annually for the purpose of disposing of appeals from judgments of the Great Chamberlain in his circuit. In 1405 their constitution was extended to include two or three burgesses of each Royal Burgh on the south of the river Spey “to compear yearly at their convention, wheresoever held, to treat, ordain, and determine upon all things concerning the utility of the common weal of all the King’s burghs, their liberties and court.” Edinburgh was then the place of annual meeting, and Janies I. ordained, with consent of the Three Estates of his realm, that it should continue thenceforward to be so, and this ordinance was confirmed by James II. in 1454. An Act of the Scottish Parliament, held at Edinburgh in 1487, enacted that “yearly in time to come commissioners of all burghs, both south and north, should convene and gather together in the burgh of Inverkeithing, on the morning after St. James’s day (25th July),” each burgh failing to send a commissioner being subjected to a fine of £5, to be applied to the expenses of the Convention. For some reason or other this enactment seems, for a time, to have been disregarded, for, so late as 1500, these assemblies, still meeting in Edinburgh, retained the designation of “the Parliament of the Four Burghs,” and continued to be presided over by the Lord Chamberlain. However, the minute of 1529, and all subsequent minutes, refer to the acts set forth in them as having been passed by the Commissioners of the Burghs alone, and make no mention of the Lord Chamberlain. To ensure attendance, the fine to be exacted from burghs which did not appear by their commissioners was raised by an Act of Convention in 1555 to £10. The meetings of Convention appear to have been very irregular, due, probably, to the unsettled condition of the country, and also to neglect on the part of the burgh in which the Convention was to be held to despatch the notices of meeting to the other burghs. That this latter was, in several instances, the cause of irregularity, is clear from the fact that an appointment to hold a Convention in St. Andrew’s in 1570 is accompanied by the threat that “gif thai failze, thar sail nocht be ony convention appoyntit to be in thair toun at ony tyme heir-efter, becaus thair was syndrie conventionis appoyntit to be in the said toun abefoir, and nocht keipit in thair defalt.” In 1578, the burghs were authorised by an Act of Parliament of James VI. held at Stirling, “to convene four times a year in such burgh as might be most convenient to the rest, whereat each burgh should be represented by one commissioner, except the town of Edinburgh, which should have two.” The burghs continued, however, as hitherto to meet at such times and places as they thought fit, determined frequently with reference to the meetings of Parliament, of which the representatives of the burghs formed a constituent part.

The Act of 1581, c. 26, ratified and approved the former Acts of Parliament, relative to the Convention of Burghs, and likewise confirmed the increase of the penalty for nonappearance at the Convention to £20, to which sum it had been raised by an Act of the Convention held in 1579, and which fine was imposed on absentees from the Convention held at Aberdeen in the following year. This Act of 1581 is still in observance, excepting with regard to the recovery of penalties, proceedings being now taken at the instance of the agent of the Convention, in place of the letters of horning at the instance of the burgh of Edinburgh. During the greater part of the seventeenth century, the Convention had no particular place of meeting, sederunts having been held during that period in most of the principal towns—viz., Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Stirling, Cupar, Haddington, Queensferry, Jedburgh, Culross, Ayr, and Dunbar. Since 1704, Edinburgh has invariably been the meeting-place of the Convention.

It was the function of the ancient Parliament of the Four Burghs, the proto-type of the more modern Convention, to decide questions involving the usages of the burghs, and the rights and privileges of the burgesses, and it even legislated in regard to such matters as the principles of moveable succession. An instance of this is to be found in the proceedings of a Parliament of Edward I. in 1292, where, in a private suit depending on the law and practice of the Burghs of Scotland, the Four Burghs were consulted, and judgment was pronounced in conformity with their record and verdict. Further, as has already been mentioned, they were in use to determine appeals from the judgment of the Great Chamberlain of the kingdom. The Court of the Four Burghs held at Stirling, in 1405, also enacted a series of regulations of a general character, affecting the rights, duties, and privileges of the burgesses. As it is put in the quaint language of the time, they met “to commune and trete apoun the welefare of merchandes, the gude rewle and statutis for the commoun proffit of burrowis, and to provide for remede apoun the scaith and injuris sustenet within burrowis or, in the more modern language of Sir Jamps Marwick in his preface to the “Records of the Convention of Royal Burghs of Scotland,” it defined the rights, privileges, and duties of burghs; it regulated the merchandise, manufactures, and shipping of the country; it exercised control over the Scottish merchants in France, Flanders, and other countries in Europe, with which from time to time commercial relations existed; it sent commissioners to foreign powers and to great commercial communities, entered into treaties with them, and established the staple trade of Scotland, wherever this could be most advantageously done; it claimed the right, independently of the Crown, to nominate the Conservator, and it certainly did regulate his emoluments and control his conduct; it sometimes defrayed, and sometimes contributed towards, the expenses of ambassadors from the Scottish Court to that of France and other foreign powers in matters affecting the Burghs and the common weal; it allocated among the whole Burghs of the kingdom their proportions of all extents and taxes granted by the Three Estates of the realm; it adjudicated upon the claims of burghs to be admitted to the privilege of free Burghs, and to be added to its roll; it took cognisance of weights and measures; it submitted propositions to Parliament in regard to all matters affecting the interests of the country, and influenced to an incalculable extent the national legislation. In a word, it formed a complete and powerful organisation for the protection of burghal rights and privileges, and for the promotion of whatever the Burghs conceived to be for their own interest and that of the country generally.”

The foregoing summary of the history and functions of the Convention of Royal Burghs covers a period anterior to the creation of Sanquhar as a Royal Burgh. Although, therefore, it has no direct relation to the history of Sanquhar in particular, yet it has been thought well to give the reader an idea, however imperfect, of the place occupied by the burghs in Scotland in the body politic, and the part which they played in our national history, and of the functions discharged by the Convention prior to the time when the burgh of Sanquhar was admitted within the sacred circle.

The Convention had ever been a thoroughly loyal body, and it seems, even in the most troubled times, to have succeeded in maintaining good relations with the crown and the government. In 1660, on the representation of the Lord Chancellor (Glencainie), it passed a resolution debarring any person guilty of disloyalty to his Majesty’s government, or who had deserted any charge in his Majesty’s armies, from being admitted to any place of “magistrate, counsall, or office of deaconrie within burgh.”

The Charter erecting Sanquhar into a Royal Burgh was granted by James VI. in 15.98, and we find that steps were taken without delay to have its name enrolled in the Convention of Royal Burghs of Scotland. It will be observed that in the royal charter Sanquhar is described as being at that time “anciently a free burgh of barony.” The Deed relating to its creation as a burgh of barony is of date 1484, but that was a re-erection. The standing of Sanquhar as a burgh is even more ancient than that, but the precise date cannot be fixed.

TRANSLATION OF THE BURGH CHARTER.

James, by the grace of God, King of the Scots, to the Sheriff of Dumfrcis, and his substitutes, also to my lovites .......and each of them conjunctly and separately, my Sheriffs of Dumfrcis in that part, greeting, because we, understanding the burgh of Sanquhar, lying within the Sheriffdom of Dumfries, anciently a free burgh of barony, to have been endowed and infeft by us and our noble predecessors, with all liberties, privileges, and immunities whatsoever belonging to a free burgh of barony within this kingdom; also recalling to memory the good, faithful, and gratuitous servicc done and performed constantly, in all times past, to us and our predecessors by the burgesses and inhabitants of the said burgh, according to their power and ability, and because our beloved cousin Robert, Lord Crichton of Sanquhar, by this special deed subscribed with his own hand, dated the 14th day of the month of December, in the year of our Lord, 1596, has agreed that the said burgh of Sanquhar (which formerly had been a free burgh of barony) be now, and in all times to come, erected and created a free Royal Burgh, with all the other immunities and privileges which it shall please us to graut to the same, we therefore, in order to place in a better situation the burgesses and inhabitants of the foresaid burgh, that they may continue their faithful servicc and wonted obedience in time to come, also for the construction and building of houses and establishing police within the said burgh, and for the accommodation of our lieges repairing there and establishing inns, have made, created, and erected, and by the tenor of these presents, do make, create, and erect the said burgh of Sanquhar, with the lands and others belonging to the same, into one free Royal Burgh, to be held of us and our successors, and also we have given, granted, and disponed, and by the tenor of these presents, do give, grant, and dispone to the provost, bailies, councillors, community, and inhabitants of our forcsaid burgh of Sanquhar, and their successors for ever, heritably All and Whole the same burgh of Sanquhar, together with all lands, tenements, annual rents, mills, mill lands, multures, woods, fishings, coals, coal-heughs, muirs, marshes, rocks, mountains, commonty and others, whatsoever belonging to the before-named burgh and liberty of the same, with the bridge of the said burgh, and with the customs, liberties, privileges, and immunities pertaining to any other of our free Royal Burghs within the kingdom, and granted in any time past preceding the date of these presents, and with full, free, and express power to the aforesaid provost, bailies, councillors, community, and inhabitants of the said burgh, and their successors, of building water-mills and wind-mills, one or more upon any part within the bounds of the foresaid burgh, and lands belonging to the same, where it shall seem most proper to them, and of having in the said burgh one chief prison, with a market-place and market-cross, with throne and throne-weights ; also, of having in the same two weekly market days in every week, viz., Wednesday and the Sabbath day, and annually in every year three fairs, to wit, one of them annually at the feast of St. Felix, being the second last day of May; another of them at the feast of Mary Magdalene, being the twenty-second of the month of July ; and the third of them annually at the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, being the eighth day of the month of October annually, and of keeping, and continuing each of the said fairs for the space of eight days, during these eight days, with all liberties, customs, tolls, and profits belonging and pertaining to the foresaid markets and fairs ; and with power, privilege, and liberty, within our said burgh of creating and constituting free burgesses; also to the foresaid burgesses and inhabitants in the said burgh of electing and creating annually, once in the year, or as often as need shall be, two, three, or more bailies, a treasurer, dean of guild, common clerk, and other officers necessary for the administration of justice within our said burgh, and in the same to loiss laid packet peill all goods of staple and other free merchandise, and of sailing to any free ports with the same, in the same manner, and as freely, in all respects, as any other free burgess or free burgesses within any other free royal burgh within this our realm, and with power to the foresaid provost and baillies of the foresaid burgh, in all time to come, of receiving resignations, of proclaiming and serving the briev es of our Chancery, and of granting infeftments upon the lands, tenements, and annual rents lying within our said burgh, and liberty of the same : Also, of framing acts and statutes for the regulation of the same, of fencing, holding, and continuing a court and courts, as often as need shall be, of levying the sentences, fines, bloodwitts, and escheats of the said courts, and applying the same to the common good of the said burgh, and, if it shall be necessary, of seizing and distraining for the same, of taking, apprehending, attaching, arresting transgressors and offenders, and of punishing with death those legally convicted according to oil! law, with gallows, pit, sok, sak, thole, theme, iufangthieff, outfangthieff, pit and gallows, with all other and singular liberties, privileges, and immunities belonging to any other free Royal Burgh within this our kingdom, as in our charter made thereupon is more fnlly contained ; we charge and order you that you cause sasine to be justly given to the foresaid provost, baillies, counsellors, and community, or their certain attornies, bearers thereof, of all and whole the foresaid burgh of Sanquhar and others, above recited, according to the form of our aforesaid charter, which they hold from us, and without delay; and this you in no ways omitt, for doing which we committ power to you, and each of you,- coujunetly and severally, our Sheriffs of Dumfreis in that part. Given under the testimony of our great seal at Falkland, the 18th day of the month of August, 159S, and of our reign the thirty-second year.

Upon this precept infeftment was taken the 2nd day of October, 1598.

In the latter portion of the charter, which deals with matters connected with criminal jurisdiction, very extensive powers are conferred, it will be observed, on the magistrates, in terms of modern phraseology, but there follow others, which are now obsolete and scarcely understood. They are “sok, sak, thole, theme, infangthieff, outfangthieff.” The following is a brief explanation of their meaning. These are terms regularly used for hundreds of years previous to the date of the Sanquhar charter. So far back as 1182, Cosmo Iunes informs us, the powers conveyed by them were conferred by William the Lion on the Monks of Arbroath ; and they became part of the regular phraseology of burgh charters in later times. We quote from the above writer, who was a high authority on such questions. “Sac is the abbreviation of Sacu, and means the jurisdiction or right of judging litigious suits. Soc strictly denotes the district included within such a jurisdiction; and Socen, from which it is derived, means the right of investigating—cognate to the word seek.” Soc and Sac are spelt Sok and Sak in the Sanquhar charter, but they are manifestly the same words.

Thol or Thole has sometimes been supposed to mean exemption from toll or custom, and that was one of the exemptions of the Arbroath monks ; but Innes prefers the interpretration which makes thol—the definite technical privilege—the right of exacting the duty rather than the right of refusing to pay it. “In this way,” he says, “I hold it to mean, and to grant to the holder of the charter the right to exact custom or customary payment for goods passing through his land.” We think he is right in so interpreting it, in the case of burgh charters at least, and that here we have the origin of those petty customs which it was the right, down to a very recent date, of all royal burghs to exact.

Them or Theme is explained as warranty, a word which has a very great variety of meanings in connection with jurisdictions and forms of process of old. It indicates a system of pledge or warranty, as applied to the recovery of stolen goods.

Infang-thieff or thef is a word expressing the right to judge and punish a thief caught “with the fang” within the charter-holder’s jurisdiction.

Outfang-thieif or thef gave the same power over a thief caught beyond the jurisdiction of the lord, he being followed and caught with the fang. Such a grant gave the holder of the charter a right to the amercements, the escheats, all the goods and chattels which the thief could forfeit; hence it was that these rights of baronial jurisdiction were so much coveted.

The two first words, Galloivs and Pit, in the enumeration of the powers and rights conferred by the charter are sufficiently well understood, and are referred to elsewhere as the form of inflicting capital punishment—the gallows or hanging for male, and the pit or drowning for female offenders.

Other writers, it may be noted, attach different meanings to one or two of these old words, but Innes, whom we have followed, is, as has been already stated, one of the highest authorities on questions of this kind.

Though it bears a much later date, there follows here for the sake of connection a copy of the Sett or Constitution of the burgh.

EXTRACT SETT OF THE ROYAL BURGH OF SANQUHAR, 1708.

“In the General Convention of the Royal Barrows, holden at the Burgh of Edinburgh, upon the fifteen day of July, one thousand seven hundred and eight years, by the commissioners therein convened.

“The which day the Convention finding by experience that nothing doth creat more trouble to them than irregularities and abuses committed by particular burghs in electing their Magistrates and toun counsell contrare to their sett and ancient constitution: Therefore, the Convention, to obviat this inconvenience in time comeing, statut and appoint that each royall burgh within this kingdom send up their sett to the clcrks of the burrows to be recorded in a particular book to be keeped for that purpose, to the end that any question about their reserve setts may be quickly discust upon producing the said book, and that betwixt and the next convention, certifying such as shall faill herein, they shall be fined by the next annual convention in the sum of Two hundred pounds Scots money,” and the sett of the royal burgh of Sanquhar is of the following tenor:—“ Set of the burgh of Sanquhar, made by recommendation in the sixth act Gn’al Convention, 1713—Whereas, the last general convention having recommended to the commissioners of the burghs of Dumfriee, Kirkcudbright, Annan, and Lochmaben, to ascertain a set for the burgh of Sanquhar, and we having, conform to that recommendation, considered duly the chartours and custom of the said burgh : wee are of opinion that for all time hereafter their set should be that they shall have a provost, three bailies, dean of gild, and treasurer, with eleven councilors, making in all seventeen, and that these shall bs of heretors, merchants, or tradesmen, burgesses, residcuters within the said burgh ; and that these, nor any of them, shall continue longer than one year, unless they be choiced again, and at least that there be four new councilors yearly, and that the old council shall still choice the new annually at Mi eh aim ass, if it fall on a Munday, if otherways, then the first Mumlay after Michalmass. In witness whereof, we and the provost of the said burgh of Sanquhar, have subscribed these presents at Edinburgh, the ninth day of July, one thousand, seven hundred and fourteen years—Sic sub-scribitur, John Corsbic, for Dumfrice; Win. Johnston, for Annan; John Kirkpatrick, for Kirkudbright; Geo. Kennedy, Lochraaben; Ab. Crichton, provost of Sanquhar.”

The following is extracted from the Minutes of the Convention of 1600, when Sanquhar was enrolled among the Royal Burghs of Scotland :—

EXTRACT FROM RECORDS OF CONVENTION OF ROYAL BURGHS, 1600.

Extract from Minute of Meeting of General Convention of the Royal Burghs of Scotland, holden at King horn, the thirteenth and subsequent days of June, 1600. Decimo sexto Jmm, 1600.

“The samyn day, comperit Jhone Creychtoun and Robert Phillop, induellaris in the toun of Sanquhar, aud gawe in thair supplicatioun desyring the said toun to be inrollit and admitit in the societie and number of fre burrows as aue bragh regall, and offerit thair concurrence in all thingis with the rest of the burrowis and obedience to the lawis tliairof, and producit the erectiouii of thair said toun be our souerane lord in aue brugh regall, to be holdin of our souerane lord and his successouris in fre burgage, for payment of fyve pnndis of borrow male, as at mair lcnthe is contenit in the said erectioun vnder his maiesteis Grit Seill, daitit at Falkland the xviij day of August 1598, quhilk being red in oppin awdience of the saidis Commissioneris and considerit be thame, thay be thir presentis INROLLIS and ADMITTIS the said toun of Sanquhar in ane fre brugh regall, nvmber and societie thairof, conforme to his maiesties erectioun, and ordanis the saidis personns to caus thair said brugh send thair commissioneris sufficientle instrucit to the next conventioun general), with speciall powir to ratefy and approve the lawis and constitutiouns of the conventioun of bnrrowis, with thair promeis to fulfill aud obey the samyn, beir burding with the bnrrowis in all thair commoun effairis, concur, fortefe, and assist them in manteyneiug the liberte and preueledgeis of fre burrowis according to thair powir, and to keep thair conventioun generall and particular as thai salbe warnet thairto, and this to be ane heid of the next missiue : quhairof thai ordane ane copy thairoff to be send to the said brugh for keiping and holding the said conventioun generall, and Rodger Maknacht become sourety for the said John Creychtoun and Robert Phillop that thai sail reporte to the nixt conventioun generall the consent of the said brugh to the premessis, and of thair suite to their inrolhnent, vnder the pane of xx li.”

While valuable privileges were conferred upon the burghs they, at the same time, had certain burdens laid upon them for various public purposes. We find that, on emergency, the King looked to them for necessary materials in time of war; for, on one occasion, the Convention made arrangements for supplying soap and candles to the King’s troops. Contributions were also made, on important occasions, for the maintenance of the dignity of the Crown, and the expenses of the royal household after the manner of a Parliamentary vote of the present day. For example, the sum of £20,000 Scots was allowed to James V. in 1535, on his visit to France, “for sustaining his honourable expenses in the parts of France;” and in 1557 £10,000 was granted towards the expenses of Queen Mary’s marriage with the Dauphin of France. Grants, too, were made towards the expenses of ambassadors sent abroad on important diplomatic missions. All this conveys an impression of the dignity and power of the burghs, and the important services which they rendered as a set off to the favours bestowed upon them by the Crown. For the purpose of allocating these burdens, the Convention framed what would in our day be called a valuation roll, but was then styled the “Taxt Roll,” which contained the names of all the burghs which had been duly “iurollit,” with the proportion of any charge which each should bear, taking £100 as the unit. In the year 1601, therefore, we find that at the Convention held at Sanctandrois (St. Andrews) the following minute was passed relative to the sum at which Sanquhar should be assessed on the extent roll :—The samyn day, in consideratioun that the brugh of Sanquhar is iurollit in the nvmber of fre burrowis and as zit nocht put in the extent roll, theirfor thai haue thocht guid to set and extent the said brugh to the soume of thre schillingis foure pennies of ilk hundrethe pundis of the soumes quliairin the remanent burrowis salbe extentit heirefter, and this to indure quhill the nixt alteratioun of the taxt rollis.”

There was a re-adjustment from time to time of this taxt-roll. These changes were due, of course, to the discovery of hitherto unknown natural resources, to the establishment of new industries, with the consequent increase of population and of the volume of trade, and, in those rude and unsettled times, to tlie fortunes of war. It is interesting to note how comparatively unimportant then were certain towns, which have since risen to 'the position of principal cities in the kingdom, while many have remained almost stagnant, and some have shrunk into comparative obscurity. Glasgow is the most notable example of the first-mentioned class, for in a re-adjustment of the taxt-roll made in 1670, on the report of a committee which had made “exact tryell of the trade, comon good, and floorishing estate of severall burgh is, impartiallie,” that town was taxed at £12 for every £100 of assessment, while Edinburgh stood at £33 6s 8d, Aberdeen at £7, and Dundee at £6 2s. On the other hand, Kirkcaldy’s share was fixed at £2 6s, and St. Andrews at £2 6s 4d. Were a valuation on the same principle made now, what a complete revolution there would be!

The Convention, as a rule, was very exacting in the attendance of every burgh at its meetings, and we are sorry to observe that in 1601, the very first year after its admission, Sanquhar offended against the law in this regard, and was adjudged to pay “ane vnlaw of tuentie pundis for nocht compearance to this present conventioun, being lauchfulle warnet be the generall missiue to have coinperit and com-perit nocht.”

The “unlaw” or penalty of twenty pounds Scots for noncompearance was in 1665 raised to the sum of “one liundreth punds Scots, because the Commissioners found that the greater part of the burghs absented themselves of purpose,’’ preferring to pay the fine rather than incur the expense of attending the Convention. This can be well understood considering the difficulty of communication at a time when there were scarcely any roads except mere bridle-paths. However, the stringency of this rule of regular attendance was relaxed on good cause shewn, such as the distance of the burgh from the place of meeting, or its temporary poverty, and so the Convention was in the habit, on application made, of granting dispenscation to burghs so situated. In 1689 a dispensation of this kind was granted to Sanquhar, which was exempted from sending a commissioner to conventions for three years, “in respect of the poverty of that burgh, and that they live at a great distance.”

The burghs were held strictly bound to see that the privileges of burgesses were not granted to any except such persons as resided within the bounds of the royalty. Upon the rigid maintenance of this rule the whole system manifestly depended for its characteristic exclusiveness. While, therefore, it was the interest of every burgh that this rule should be enforced, there was a distinct temptation on the part of the smaller, poorer, and less populous burghs to depart from the rule, and admit persons outwith the bounds for the sake of the fees which were exacted for admission. Sanquhar had, if we are to believe the allegations made by Dumfries, yielded to the temptation, and, in consequence, a complaint was lodged by the latter to the Convention of 1621, setting forth that the burgh of Sanquhar was guilty of “ admitting daylie, burgessis sic as wobsters, cordineris, wakers, and vtheris of the lyik tred and occupatioun, duelling outwith thair burgh, and in taking of ane littill soume of money for the saniin, to the grit preiudice of the nixt adjacent burgh of Dumfreis, thairfore thai ordane the burgh of Sanquhar to direct thair commissioner to the nixt generall conventioun of borrowis sufficientlie instructit to ansuer to the said complent.” There is no further trace in the records of the Convention of this complaint, nor of what the deliverance on the subject was. In all probability, however, Dumfries had good grounds for its allegation; at all events, in 1660, the Commissioners “approved of a letter by the moderator to the burgh of Sanquhair discharging them to suffer their burgessis to dwell in unfree places and exercise the liberty of free burghs.”    -

The terms “unfree trade ” and “unfree traders” occur frequently in these records, and perhaps it is desirable for the sake of the general reader to explain their significance. The exclusive privilege of carrying on foreign trade was given to freemen of the royal burghs of Scotland by a charter from King David, anno 1124, and this was confirmed by Parliament in almost every succeeding reign. In particular, the privilege was re-affirmed by the 84th Act, James IV., in 1503, all other persons being inhibited under high penalties, and it was ratified afresh in 1592. The monopoly of export enjoyed by the royal burghs was, however, abolished in 1672, the right being extended to burghs of regality and burghs of barony, but was again revived in 1690, excepting as regards such commodities as noblemen and barons should import for their own use, and not for sale, and the privilege of retailing all foreign commodities was given to burghs of regality and burghs of barony, “provydeing they buy the same from freemen of royal burrows allenarly.” In 1693 an Act of Parliament, entitled “ane Act for the communication of trade,” was passed confirming an Act of the Convention of Burghs, which communicated the privilege of trade to the “burghs of regalities, barronys, and others, upon their paying or relieving of the royal burghs of a proportional part of the tax-roll imposed upon them by act of parliament corresponding to their trade.” The trading, then, which was conducted outside of burghs, or in burghs of regality or barony which refused to fulfil the conditions under which it was granted to them, was called “unfree trading,” and those wrho engaged in such traffic were called “unfree traders.” The royal burghs which, in consideration of the monopoly of trading secured to them by the charters of sovereigns and acts of parliament, were subjected to certain burdens, some of them, such as the land-tax, perpetual, and others of a special kind, which recurred from time to time, naturally complained to the Crown and Parliament of this unfree trading. There is no subject which crops up more frequently in the records of the Convention and gave the burghs greater concern ; for the practice of unfree-trading, whenever it became general, proved fatal to the prosperity of the burgh. As an example of this, the burgh of Sanquhar, in the report given in by their two bailies to the committee of the Convention, sitting in Dumfries in 1692, attribute the decayed condition of their trade to this cause.

“The Convention, upon a petition from the burgh of Sanquhar, representing the poverty of their burgh, and their particular case and condition, had for long continued a head of the missive, granted warrand to the magistrats and council of the said burgh [to pursue the unfree traders within the Presbytery of Penpont, and to compound with them on same terms as Kirkwall was authorised by the 26th Act.”

The Convention took upon herself the care of all the burghs. Although stern and resolute in compelling a strict adherence by all the burghs to their constitution, aud the laws by which they were regulated, and quick and sensitive to all that concerned their well-being and prosperity as a whole, her ear was ever open to the complaint of the most obscure member of the family, and her hand was often extended in relief in times of difficulty and distress.

Her solicitude for the welfare of the whole is well illustrated by the fact that she instructed a register to be made containing the state aud condition of every burgh within the kingdom of Scotland in 1692.

The following is a copy of the Report upon the burgh of Sanquhar :—

At Dumfreise, the twentie third day of Aprill jmvjc and nyntie two years, Conipcired James Fletcher, provost of Dundie, and Alexander Walker, bailly of Aberdeen, commissionars appoynted by the royall borrowes for visiting the wholl burghs royall be south and west the river of Forth, the present magistrats of the burgh of Sanchar, who gave in ane accoinpt of ther patrimonie and comon good, with tlier answer to the saides visitors instructions as follows : —

1. First article, answered that ther comon good amounts only to fourteen pound four shillings and eight pennies Scots, and that ther debts amounts to two hundreth pound Scots of principall. '

2. As to the second article, it is answered that they have no mortifications.

3. As to the third article, it is answered that they are not concerned therein.

4. As to the fourth article, it is answered that they are not concerned therein, having no seaport.

5. As to the fyfth article, it is answered that they have thesauers bookes, ther coition good being soe inconsiderable, and that ther liquies extends yearly with ther clerks dewes and other casualities to fourteen pounds.

6. As to the sixth article, it is answered that they have no forraigue trade, and that ther inland trade consists only of some few sheeps skins, butter and cheese, and few merchant goodes from Edinburgh, and that they vent no French wynes, nor seek, but a little brandie, and that they consume about two bolls of malt weekly.

7. As to the seventh article, it is answered that they have no ships, barks, or boats belonging to them.

8. As to the eighth article, it is answered that they neither are owners nor pairtners of ships belonging either to burghs royall, of regality or barronie, nor are they concerned in trade with unfree burghs.

9. As to the nynth article, it is answered that they pay cess by a taxation on ther inhabitants for ther houses and borrow acres.

10. As to the tenth article, it is answered that ther minister is payed out of the teyiids of the paroch wherof ther land payes a pairt effeirand to ther teind; ther schoollmaster is maintained according to the number of schoolars by weekly intertainment from ther respective parents, besides twelve pounds yearly of fie laid on by stent on ther lands ; the rest of the publict servants are payed by stent on ther inhabitants.

11. As to the elleaventh article, it is answered that all their publict works are maintained by tax on themselves.

12. As to the twelth article, its answered that the rest of ther houses will be of rent betwixt fourty aud fyfty shillings Scots inclusive ; no strangers in their burgh.

13. As to the thretteenth article, it is answered that they have thric yearly fairs of one dayes containwance, and that ther custoines are contained in ther eomon good as in the first article.

14. As to the fourteen article, it is answered that they are surrounded with burghs of barronie and regality whois retaill of staple goodes destroyes totally ther trade. *

This is the trew accompt of the toun of Sanquhar’s patrimonie and comon good in answer to the above written queries which are given up, upon oath, by the saids undersubscryveing to the saides visitors day and date forsaid. Sic subscribitur: Ro. Park, baillie, Alex. Creitchtoune, baillie.

Grants were frequently made out of the funds of the Convention to individual burghs in the furtherance of necessary works for the public convenience, and in the interests of public order. Thus, in 1682, there was remitted to next General Convention “petition of Sancquher craveing some supplie for repairing of their bridge and tolbooth, and putting them in a conditione to continue a niember of the royall burrow's.” Nothing appears to have been done, and a petition in this altered form “bearing that the tolbuith, the cross, and bridge is altogether rowinous,” was presented to the Convention of 1688, when the Convention remitted to three of the commissioners to visit the burgh and report. What the report was does not appear, nor that any action was taken at that time; but, in 1697, eight years later, “ the Convention, having considered the petition of Sanquhar, appointed the agent to pay £10 sterling towards the reparation of the tolbooth of the said burgh.” It was not then alone that Sanquhar was the recipient of the bounty of the Convention, for, in 1704 there was allowed to the burgh £100 Scots of present supply, and in the following year "Sanquhar and New-Galloway and Stranraer wrere each allowed £40 in consideration of the lowr and decayed condition of the saids burghs and again, in 1727, Sanquhar is allowed £12 sterling to be applied to the repair of the Tolbooth and other public works.

In the early days of the Convention, the qualification of commissioners was more restricted than it is now. For some hundreds of years no one was allowed to sit as a commissioner unless he were an inhabitant of the burgh, and his interests identified with those of the general community which he represented. Thus, in 1675, it is ordained that none but “merchand traffiqueris” are to be appointed commissioners. Previously, in 1660, the commission from Sanquhar was refused because it was in favour of a person not qualified, a course which was frequently taken, and shewed the resolution of the Convention to preserve the purity of the representation —to secure that it should be composed of members who could take an intelligent part in its business, and had no other object to serve but to guard the rights and promote the general interests of the burghs. Hence we find that, in those days, political faddists had 110 place in the Convention ; time was not wasted in the discussion of the schemes of political busybodies, or of questions of a political party character ; but the Convention never for a moment lost sight of the end and purpose of their meeting. They jealously guarded the rights and privileges of the burghs from the encroachments either of the Crown or the nobles, or of the unenfranchised multitude outside, and were constantly engaged in the consideration of questions of trade and commerce affecting the interests of their constituents.

At a later time, that is in the beginning of last century, the stringency of the Convention’s regulations as to the qualification of a commissioner appears to have been somewhat relaxed, for, from 1718 to 1726, Sanquhar was represented by one George Irving, who was neither an inhabitant of the town nor a “merchant trafficker,” but a W.S. in Edinburgh. This George Irving deserves more than a mere passing notice, for he seems to have been a person of great business capacity and soundness of judgment, and, by the active part which he took in the business of the Convention, he brought the name of Sanquhar into honourable prominence in the records of that body. His qualities would appear to have been known before he entered the Convention, for no sooner did he take his seat there, in the year 1718, than he was employed on important committee work, dealing with the questions of the fisheries and “unfree trading.” In 1720, he first sat at the general Convention, and, for some years thereafter, there was scarcely a member who possessed in a higher degree the confidence of the Convention. He was, in 1724, appointed one of three commissioners to meet at Dunfermline “to determine all differences that may happen in the elections, agreeable to the meaning and extent of the decreet arbitral, that the peace of the said burgh may be establisht in time coming.” He had, however, in 1720, received a still more important nomination, for, in that year, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, having been appointed to proceed to London as the plenipotentiary of the Convention to negotiate with the King and the Ministry in the “burrowes affaires,” appointed Mr Irving, commissioner for the burgh of Sanquhar, to assist him. In July, 1721, a committee was appointed to receive from the commissioner for the burgh of Sanquhar a report of what was transacted at London in the royal burrows’ concerns. The report was given in, and met with the approval of the Convention, which thereupon “ordered payment to the Lord Provost of 500 guineas, and to his assessor (Mr Geo. Irving) of 200 guineas for defraying their charges.” Finally, with regard to this distinguished representative of Sanquhar, we note that, iu 1728, George Irving, described as a wryter to the signet,” was elected agent of the burghs.

A list of the various representatives of Sanquhar at the Convention will be found in the appendix. This list illustrates the changes which the spelling of the name of the town has undergone.

A curious entry occurs in the minutes of 1772, where we read that—“ Allan Ramsay having been engaged to write a poem in support of the Convention’s dealing with the fishery question, he is allowed a gratuity by the Convention of £120 Scots for writing the same, which is among his published works, entitled ‘On the prospect of plenty—a Poem on the North Sea Fishery,’ and is inscribed ‘To the Royal Burrows of Scotland.’”

The first Minute Book extant of the Town Council of Sanquhar commences with the year 1718. The book would appear to have been the Protocol Book of William Whyte, Notary Public, and has, as usual with such books, the signature of the Clerk of the Society of Notaries on the top of every page. It contains, first, a copy of Whyte’s own commission as a Notary, and then follow copies of deeds drawn by him—Tack by the Earl of Annandale, and Seisin on Bond ' 22 to James Johnstone by the Earl of Athole. The book, which consists of 32 pages or thereby, had in some way fallen into the hands of John Menzies, Town Clerk, by whom it had been turned to use as a Council Minute Book. It is to be regretted that the records of the Council prior to this date have disappeared, but, what is more to be wondered at, the Minute Book from 1817 to 1831, a comparatively recent period, is also awanting. The fly leaf of this earliest Minute Book is occupied with a list of the persons in the burgh, including of course Crawick Mill, which is within the ancient royalty, who were entitled to grazing on Sanquhar Moor, with the number of “ Kyne ” kept by each. When King James erected the burgh into a royalty, he endowed her with a fair patrimony. The boundaries are as follow :—Starting at the river Nith, where the Corseburn flows into it, it ascends the course of said burn till where it is crossed by the Deer park dyke, follows the line of this dyke along the south of the town till the Townfoot burn is reached. Turning then sharp back, and ascending said burn to its source, it circles round by the Quarter Moor till the head of Conrick Burn is reached, when it follows down the course of said burn till it reaches Crawick, and down that stream to the old bridge. At this point it turns again towards the town, passes to the source of a little runlet, which, now covered over, ran along the hollow on the lower side of the railway to the head of Helen’s Wynd, now St. Mary’s Street. It then passes down behind the houses, crosses the turnpike road immediately behind the Town Hall, whence it follows the fall of the land on the north side of the Loclian, through the Ward park, across the Coal Road, into Blackaddie Mill-dam, and thence to the river Nith by the runner from said dam, which flows in at the foot of the “ Minister’s Pool.” It will thus be seen that this was a right royal gift, extending to hundreds of acres, which, had it been judiciously and carefully administered, might have made Sanquhar one of the wealthiest little corporations in the whole country. But this was what could not be looked for in times when the Town Councils of small burghs were hotbeds of corruption, and the councillors, self-elected, owned no responsibility, and occupied a position of perfect security. The first step towards appropriation was the soumes of grass, or rights of pasturage, which, granted by the Council to their friends, were made the foundation of claims, and were sustained ,by the Court of Session in the Decree of Division in the year 1830. These soumes or grants of lands became ultimately so numerous as to swallow up one half, and that by far the better half, of the whole lands, and in process of time became absorbed into the hands of a few. The great bulk of the soumers, finding the privilege of grazing small crofts, situated at a considerable distance, to be no great advantage, parted readily enough with their rights to others who prized them more highly. The whole of the population had rights of pasturage on the common, and a large number of cows were kept in the town and Crawick Mill, and contributed in no small degree to the sustenance of the families of the labouring people. These cows were tended by a herd, the town cows and the Crawick Mill cows separately. The town herd’s house was situated on the edge of the common, overlooking the town ; and, at an early hour of the morning, he paraded the street, blowing a horn, whereupon the cows were turned out by their owners to be gathered together into a drove by “herdie,” and taken off up the Cow Wynd to the moor. The house for the herd was provided out of the town’s funds. In 1792, there are sums paid “for wood to the herd’s house, and to a mason for work.” The cow-herd was fed in the houses of the cow-keepers, according to a regular rotation, and in addition he received a shilling from each on the term day. This state of things continued down to about sixty years ago, at which time the holders of soumes banded themselves together and applied to the Court of Session for a division of the lands between them and the general community, in order that they might enclose and cultivate the portion that might be assigned to them as their share, there being no encouragement to improve so long as these herds of cows roamed over the whole surface of the common. The rights of the soumers were admitted by the Court, and a decree of division was pronounced, whereby the common was split into two almost equal portions, the western portion going to the soumers, and the eastern portion to the town, the boundary being a line drawn from the top of Matthew’s Folly straight through the moor in a north-easterly direction. The soumers then proceeded with the work of fencing, draining, and cultivating their lands Though it was the case that, in the beginning of this century, the whole moor was pastured, it is evident that, at a very early period, the cultivation of the moor had been attempted, for we find that, in 1727, the Town Council “ordaine each heritor and tenant that has in his possession half an acre of arrable land, less or more, that he labour to sowt the eighth part of ane Nithsdale peck of pease each year, and so proportionable upward, conform to their arrable land, and that the said Council shall oblidge a reasonable quantitie of good and sufficient pease to be brought in spring to the said burgh in due time for seed that the heritors and tennents be not disappointed; and the same to be sold at a reasonable price, and that under the pain of five merks Scots money for ilk break toties quoties to be payed by ilk transgressor; and for the preservance of the Growing Pease be it further enacted that each head of a familie be oblidged for himself and every one of his familie that shall be convicted of plucking, trampling, or any other ways abusing the said pease to pay a shilling sterling of fyne for each transgression, and whoever are taken in the said pease red-hand amongst them, whether growing or Cutt are to be set half au hour in the Joggs for each tyme, and they Doe appoint and ordaine the haill heritors and tenuents within this brugh to keep and observe the same under the penalty foresaid.”

This ordinance refers to a particular sort of grain-measure, in vogue in Nithsdale in the eighteenth century, called the Nithsdale peck. We get at the capacity of this measure by a reference to the rent-roll in kind of the estates of the Earl of Nithsdale, forfeited to the Crown in 1715, where the rent is stated both in Nithsdale and ordinary measure, from which it would appear that 16 bolls 2 firlots of Nithsdale measure were equal to about 44 bolls ordinary measure. It likewise contains the earliest reference to be found in the minutes to that instrument of punishment, the “Joggs.” This was for the object of exposing the delinquent to public reprobation and contempt, and consisted of an iron ring affixed to the outer wall of the Town Hall, and running on an upright iron bar, to suit criminals of varying stature. It was at the corner next the street, and therefore the most pnblic place in the town. An iron collar attached to the ring, and secnred by a padlock, encircled the neck of the prisoner. The very last time that it was used was in 182— for a case of housebreaking. The prisoner was a person of so diminutive stature that a stone had to be placed in the ground so as to raise his neck to the level of the ring. He had to stand there two hours on three successive days, one of which happened to be the quarterly market or fair. An aggravation of the punishment, where the offence excited public indignation, was the liberty which the populace received—or took—to pelt the delinquent with rotten eggs or other obnoxious missiles. The ring and stone are still to be seen in their place.

Immediately after the division of the moor, the Magistrates resolved to let their portion to a tenant, on lease, but some hitch occurred, for the lease was immediately surrendered by the tenant, when it was decided to let cow’s grass to the burgesses aud inhabitants at the rate of £1 per head per annum, but they do uot seem to have been willing to avail themselves of the opportunity, for, next year, an attempt to let it “all and whole,” at a rent of £18 sterling, was made. No offer, however, was forthcoming, and ultimately it was agreed to erect a dividing dyke across the middle of it, and to let these two divisions—the first, which was the part next the town, consisting of 30 acres, in three lots of 10 acres each ; and the second division or back part, consisting of 130 acres, in nine equal lots, on lease of nine years’ duration, reserving about 20 acres of common near the Loch, for the use of the inhabitants for casting peats and divots, and for the accommodation of passing droves of cattle and sheep. The Council fixed the charge for cattle and sheep lying on the muir “at one penny per head of cattle and fourpence per score of sheep for a period of fifteen hours or under. If they continued longer they were to pay double so long as they remained.” The Town Council succeeded by this process of sub-division in getting the land let, but their troubles only began at this stage, for the greatest difficulty was experienced in the collection of the rents. Tenants were continually in arrear, and the Council were ever and anon passing resolutions to send them threatening letters. The property was in reality of little value to the town, and, after years of continual annoyance, they resolved, in 1857, to build a farm-steading, and let the whole as one farm for fifteen years, with the same reservation of common as formerly. It was set up at £100, and let at £142. An even higher rent was obtained next lease, but, on the expiry of this second term, a considerable reduction of rent had to be submitted to, a period of severe agricultural depression and a succession of bad seasons having set in ; and, even then, the tenant, after obtaining voluntary reductions from time to time, ultimately, with consent of the Council, surrendered his lease. The farm is now let at £112. Before the farm steading was built, an offer of £100 a year for the pasturage was made to the Council by a farmer, whose lands lay contiguous to the moor. Jf we take into account the enormous sum that has been spent on the farm, from first to last, on buildings, draining, fencing, &c., it is plain that, had the Council accepted the offer, they would have been more in pocket than by the course they followed.

An examination of the burgh accounts from the year 1857, when the steading was erected and the lands enclosed, till the present time, a period of 34 years, gives rather startling results of the land-owning of the Town Council. During that time the total reveuue of the farm, including the game-rent, amounted to £5606 3s, and the expenditure was as follows:—Building, £775 15s; draining, £750 Is; roads and dykes, £262 8s; lime, &c., £58 10s ; general repairs, £96 18s; law, £79 ; imperial and local taxes, £581 2s; minister’s stipend, £725 9s; miscellaneous, £87 11s, to which may be added the expense of boring for coal in 1873-4, £108 15s 10d—making a total of £3505 9s 10d, leaving a net balance of £2100 13s 2d, or £61 15s 7d per annum, as the actual value of the farm to the town during that period.

In connection with the general administration of the Council during the last twenty-three years, it may be stated that, apart altogether from the heavy law expenses incurred by the proving of the Tenor of the Charter, and in the litigation with the Duke of Buccleuch over the Teiud question and arrears of Feu-rents in 1860, to which more particular reference is made in the proper place, there has been spent during that period on petty litigation, arising out of various disputes, the sum of £427 8s 2d.

A portion of the main lands, called “Larsbraes and others,” with the coal, was, in the year 1806, let to Mr M'Nab, proprietor of the Holm, on a lease of 999 years, on payment of a slump sum of £50 for the coal, and 15s of annual rent for the land; and, subsequently, he obtained a lease of the same duration of the land overlooking the Holm house, and now occupied by the Holm plantation, on payment of another sum of £50, and an annual rent of £2 10s. Shortly thereafter, a fresh proposal was made by Mr M'Nab to lease from the Council the coals in a portion of the Muir, and a lease of 38 years was granted on certain conditions, one of which was, that the price of coal was not to exceed sixpence per load at the hill, unless the wages of the men were either raised or lowered, in which case the price was to rise or fall in proportion, according to the determination of two neutral persons, appointed by the Council and Mr M'Nab. There are traces of these coal-workings to be seen in the plantation, but nothing of consequence was done, for the death of Mr M'Nab, in 1811, put a stop to operations, his leases being purchased by the Duke of Queensberry. At his death, M'Nab was owing the town £85 17s 11d for coal lordship, but that was covered by a loan of £100 which the town had from him.

The Coal, in the main portion of the Muir lands, had been worked before M'Nab’s time, and these works were continued successfully down to the year 1822, and even much later. In a minute of 1790, a Robert Sandilands is mentioned as the owner of coal works on the Muir. He resided at Knowe-head. The first reference we have in the burgh's accounts to mining for coal is to be found in the year 1792, when— “The Magistrates and Town Council, being in Council assembled, and taking into consideration that the inhabitants in this Burgh labour under a great disadvantage from the present scarcity of coal, are resolved, in order to supply the present need, that coals be raised out of the common land belonging to said burgh; therefore come to the resolution of setting the sinking of a pit to some person, and appoint Mr Barker and Bailie M'Math to treat first for the sinking of said Pit with any person who will take the doing of the same; also appoint said two persons to survey the ground in question to see what place will be most convenient for sinking said Pit, and likewise report their opinion upon every measure that may be most conducive and of the greatest advantage for supplying the present inhabitants during said scarcity.” Small sums appear as having been paid to workmen at the coal works. A James Henderson is paid £4 10s “towards a pitt,” 14s 9d is entered for wood for the coal-heugh, Is 6d for mending a creel, and 2s 6d for two pounds powder, evidently for blasting, while a man is paid 24s for 16 shifts at the coal pit. The accounts, however, are very loosely kept, and it is difficult to trace the progress of the works, but, early in the present century, we have revealed to us facts which open our eyes, and shew the mineral wealth of the town’s property, and the revenue — the princely revenue for so small a place — which the town reaped, in the period down to 1822, from the mining operations. The minerals were let to tacksmen, though their names, curiously enough, do not appear in the minutes, nor the terms or conditions on which they worked. The accounts, however, shew that they paid their rents by a lordship on the output. The amount received from this source was—in 1807, £244; in 1814, £710; in 1816, £504; in 1817, £343; in 1820, £100; in 1821, £93; and in 1822, £75, shewing a grand total in these sixteen years of £2069, besides sums received from M‘Nab in 1806 of £150. What became of this large sum % is the question that will start to the lips of the reader. It is impossible to say what became of it. The two sums first received from M‘Nab of £50 and £100 are noted as “paid to Provost Otto,” for what reason does not appear, nor is there any evidence of its ever having been repaid; while, in the years during which these enormous sums were being received, we cannot observe that any great amount w'as spent in works of public utility. The accounts are bristling with payments of sums to quite a number of people, some of whose names appear rather frequently. The entries are brief, and convey no explanation, thus—“Paid to so-and-so,” and the sum. Perhaps the key to the whole mystery is to be found in one^candid entry—“Paid for Election Entertainment, £30 10s 6d.” How suggestive this, and tending to lend an air of probability to the otherwise almost incredible stories that are still handed dowu, that this was a period during which the funds of the town were plundered by the Council and their confederates in the most unblushing manner, while the voice of conscience was drowned in the ever-recurring carousals in which they indulged. However it be, it is patent that the money went as it came, and that the town was, in the end, not a penny the richer for all the wealth with which it had been endowed by royal hands. The only redeeming feature of this corrupt time is the fact that, in 1812, a year of great scarcity, the Council supplied oatmeal to the inhabitants at a price somewhat lower than cost. The price of the meal ranged from 4s 6d to 7s per stone, and was retailed at a loss of from 3d to 1s per stone. The total sum spent in this way was £73 0s 6d. In 1813 they spent in the same way £20 19s 10d.

It was in this period, too, that the idea of dividing the muir-land was first broached. “The Council resolve that an application should be made to the principal Heritors holding rights of Servitude over the Muir for their concurrence in having a division of the Muir, which, in its present state, is of little or no value either to the Heritors or to the Townand it is noted later that “a letter from the Provost was read, mentioning that he was of opinion that the Muir ought to be divided entirely—that is, that those parts sold and feued off by the Town ought to be included in the division—and that one-half of the Muir, estimated according to the value of the land, ought to be set apart for the Town, and the remaining half for the Heritors.” In an ordinary case, one would be inclined to say that the Council were good judges of what was best in the town’s interest, but we have already had a measure of their concern about that, and, when we bear in mind that the Provost was the redoubtable Major Crichton, the Chamberlain of the youthful Duke of Buccleuch, and consider how readily such councillors would fall in with his desires, the proposal at once assumes quite a different aspect. To their credit, however, be it said that the suggestion contained iu the Provost’s letter (who possibly thought it safer to write than to come to the town at that time) that the lands already sold or feued, in virtue of their undoubted rights, should be included in the division, was too barefaced even for them. They agreed to the division, but rejected this addition by the Provost. The project, however, fell through, and no further notice of it appears in the minutes. In all likelihood, the Council were terrified at the outburst of popular indignation which their scheme evoked. That there was such an outburst we cannot doubt, for the echoes of it are audible to this day from the lips of the older inhabitants. It will be seen that the division was ultimately carried out in the year 1830—a very opportune time for the Heritors, as they were called. The voice of popular opinion was making itself heard. Reform was in the air. It was plain to any shrewd observer of the course of events, and the state of public feeling, that the time was rapidly approaching when the present state of municipal government, or rather misgovernment, would no longer be endured, and the management of burghs would pass into the hands of those who would be, in some degree, representative of the people, and liable to be called to account for the discharge of the trust committed to them. It was now or never, then, with the holders of power. Their time was short, and they must make the best use of it. Major Crichton still occupied the civic chair, and, under his auspices, the scheme was carried through. It may be said that the fact that the Court of Session, a body that has always, happily, been unsuspected of corruption, granted Decree of Division, proves that the claims of the Heritors were legal. But law is one thiDg and justice sometimes another thing, and while the Court could not inquire into the origin of these rights of the Heritors, but only take matters as they found them, the inhabitants knew full well how they had at first been acquired. In any case, it would have been a formidable business for the Heritors to have attempted, in the face of an opposing Council, backed up by an indignant community, to parcel out the muir-lands as they did; but, with a pliant Corporation, it was all plain sailing; and so the town lost, at one fell swoop, the half of its patrimony. The only excuse for dwelling at such length on this subject is the fact that there is perhaps nothing, during the whole municipal history of the town, which has evoked so much popular feeling as the division of the muir. It is not so long, indeed, since a strong disposition was shewn to test the legality of the transaction, and it was only when the Council had obtained the advice of the best legal authority of the day that they felt compelled, though reluctantly, to admit that the property was gone beyond recall. Though the land was gone, it was shewn, by the action relative to the quarrying of stones for the Free Church in 184*3, that the Town Council were still superiors, and therefore the owners of the minerals beneath the surface. In 1867, the question was raised whether they were not likewise entitled to the game on the divided lands. It was proposed to the holders to take jointly the opinion of Counsel on the point. This proposal was declined, wrhereupon the Council resolved to roup the game, which was done next year. The tenant was chary of exercising the right, and, as the Council were disinclined to bind themselves to protect him against all risks, and he was warned by the Heritors that he would be prosecuted if he dared to trespass on their lands, the right was never freely exercised, nor was the rent paid. The attempt to establish the claim was a faint and half-hearted one, and came to nothing.

From the Union, and down to the passing of the Reform Act of 1832, the election of a Member of Parliament for the District of Burghs—Dumfries, Annan, Kirkcudbright, Sanquhar, and Lochmaben—was in the hands of the Town Councils of the respective burghs, and was carried through in the following manner :—The Writ for the Election having issued from his Majesty’s Court of Chancery to the Sheriff of the County, notice was sent by the Sheriff to each Town Council, requiring them to “meet and convene within their ordinary Council house, or place where they use to meet in Council, with all Convenient Dispatch, and there to Choice a Commissioner for the Burgh, in such manner as they were in use to Choice a Commissioner to Represent them in the Parliament of Scotland, to meet with the Commissioners of the other Burrows,” on a day fixed by the Sheriff, betwixt the hours of ten in the morning and two in the afternoon, in the Burgh which was for the time the “present preceding burgh,” the election being held, according to a system of regular rotation, each burgh taking that place in succession. The Commissioner so appointed is constantly described in the minute of appointment as “a Man fearing God, of the true Protestant Religion publickly professit and authorised by the laws of the Kingdom, without suspicion to the contrail-, Expert in the Common affairs of the Burrows, a Burgess and Inhabitant within this Burgh, bearing all portable charges with his Neighbours and a part of the public Burdens, and who can lose and win in all their Affairs.”

The manner of the appointment of the Burgh’s commissioner was this :—The Provost, on receipt of the Notice from the Sheriff, instantly called a meeting of the Council by sending round the officer to each member. When the Council had assembled, the Provost reported the receipt of the Precept of the Sheriff (giving the very hour of its coming to hand by courier), and setting forth the nature of said Precept, viz. :— “That every royal Borough of the said shire should freely and Indifferently cause to be elected one Commissioner to Elect one Burgess of the most discreet and sufficient of the Class or District.” The Acts of Parliament regulating such Elections, and Acts relating to Bribery and Corruption, were then read over in the hearing of the Council. The two officers were then called in, and testified that the whole members of the Council had been summoned to that meeting, whereupon the Council fixed the time and place for appointment of their Commissioner. At this second meeting the Oath for Town Clerks, prescribed by the Act of the 16th year of Geo. II., was first administered to the Clerk by the Provost, and then the whole members of Council “having qualified themselves by their severally taking and subscribing the Oath of Allegiance to His Majesty the King, subscribing the Assurance, and taking and signing the Oath of Abjuration,” proceeded to the Election of their Commissioner. The Oath taken by the Clerk ran as follows :—

“I do solemnly swear that I have not directly or indirectly, by way of loan or other device whatsoever, received any sum or sums of money, office, place or employment, gratuity or reward, or any bond, bill, note, or any promise of any sum or sums of money, office, place, employment, or gratuity whatsoever, either by myself, or any other to my use or benefit or advantage, to make out any commission for a Commissioner for choosing a Burgess; and that I will duly make out a commission to the Commissioner who shall be chosen by the majority of the Town Council assembled, and to no other person.—So help me God.”

In those times when the whole system of government was honeycombed with corruption, a seat in Parliament was eagerly coveted by those who were much less concerned about the commonweal than about their own personal aggrandisement. Innumerable offices and appointments were in the gift of Members of Parliament, and afforded the opportunity of serving not only their own interests, but those of their friends and followers. Honourable and patriotic men there were, no doubt, among them, but, even upon those, the loose moral ideas and usages of their time had their own effect, and in public affairs they would lend themselves to practices which they would have scorned in their private and business relations. What was true in this respect of them was emphatically so in the case of the bodies—the Town Councils of the burghs—who possessed the privilege of their election. Lower down in the social scale, though persons of importance in their own little spheres, they had no conscientious scruples in imitating the manners of their “ betters ; ” and so we find that in connection with this, one of the most important public functions with which they were entrusted, the Town Councils of small burghs were perfect hotbeds of corruption and intrigue, and stories are still told of how votes were bought and sold in the most open and unblushing manner. As an instance of this kind, it is said that the vote of the burgh’s commissioner was, on one occasion, secured by means of a little bartering transaction whereby he, being a clothier, received, in exchange for a grey plaid, the title deeds of the principal inn in the town. If they had not the fear of God, still less had they the fear of man before their eyes. The constitution and manner of election of Town Councils rendered them perfectly irresponsible. As has been said, they were self-elected bodies, having the right of filling up by nomination such vacancies as might occur from time to time. Clique and party therefore reigned supreme, and care was taken that none were admitted but such as would be willing to work with the dominant party, prove facile instruments in carrying out their self-seeking policy, and take a share in the general plunder. Their position was secure, and they could afford to snap their fingers in the face of public opinion. It is true that, along with the Council in the appointment of their Commissioner to vote in the election of the burgh Member of Parliament, were associated the Deacons of the Trades — the masons and joiners, smiths, weavers, tailors, and shoemakers—representative in a sense, but powerless to control the general body of the Council. The election of the Member by the Commissioners was held in each of the five burghs in succession, and, occurring only at considerable intervals, one can imagine what a stir would be created in the returning burgh for the time. Such was the vicious system that prevailed down to 1832, when it was swept away by the Act for the Reform of Municipal Corporations, under which the Council is now elected by the votes of duly qualified citizens.

The Election of a Town Council was held, as a rule, annually about the month of September or October, and vacancies occurring during the year were filled up at the time of their occurrence. The Provost and all office-bearers, together with the Town-Clerk and officer or officers (for there were frequently two of these), held office only for one year, and their formal appointment was recorded at every annual election. The number of councillors generally chosen was seventeen.    We find that, though the election was generally, it was not uniformly, held at the time stated; and, further, it would appear that the Burgh down to 1734 had no regular Sett or Constitution, a state of things which prevailed in many burghs, and which induced the Convention of Royal Burrows in 1708 to pass the following Act:—

"In the general Convention of the Royal Burrows holclen at the Burgh of Edinburgh upon the fifteen day of Jully one thousand seven hundred and eight years by the Commissioners therein conveened, The Which Day, the Convention finding by Experience that nothing doth Creat more trouble to them than Irregularities and Abusses committed by particular Burghs in Electing their Magistrats and Town Council Contrary to their Sett and Antient Custom, Therefore the Convention to obviat this Incon-veniency in time coming Statuted and appointed that each Royal Burgh within this kingdom send np their Sett to the Clerks of the Burrows to be recorded in a particular Book to be keeped for that very purpose, To the End any Question about their rexive Setts may be quickly disenst upon producing the sd Book and that betwixt and the next Convention, Certifie-ing Such as shall fail therein they shall be fined by the next Convention in the sum of Two hundred pound Scots money, But in regard the Burgh of Sanquhar had no Sett, the Convention by their Sixth Act of the Date the eight day of July one thousand seven hundred and thirteen years appointed the Commissioners for the Burghs of Dumfries Kirkcudbright Annan and Loehmaben or any two of them to make a Sett for the said Burgh and report to the next Convention, In obedience to which appointment the Commissioners before named gave in a Sett for the s(l Burgh of Sanquhar, The Tenor Whereof Follows —

“Whereas The last general Convention haveing recomended to the Commissioners of the Burghs of Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Annan, and Lochmaben to assertain a Sett for the Burgh of Sanquhar. And they haveing conform to that Recomendation considered duly the Charters and Custom of the said Burgh, They were of opinion that for all Time hereafter, Their Sett should be that they shall have a Provost, three Baillies Dean of Guild and Thcsanrer with eleven Conncelours making in all seventeen, And that these shall be of Heretors Merchants or Tradesmen Burgesses— Residenters within the said Burgh, and that these nor any of them shall Continue longer than for one year unless they be Choiced again, and at least that there be four new Couneelour yearly and that the old Council shall still Choisc the new annually at Michaelmas if it fall on a Munday, If other ways then the first Munday after Michaelmas, In witness whereof, &c.

“Extracted upon this and the preceeding page forth of the Records of the Royal Burrows of Scotland by me George Home of Kells general Clerk to the Burrows—Sic subscribitur : George Home.”

Note.—The sum paid by a Burgess, on his admission, was called his Composition, and was a variable sum according to his station in life, ranging from one pound to twelve pound Scots, but, towards the close of last century, the charge became more regular, being five shillings sterling for one who was the son of a Burgess, or who was married to a Burgess’s daughter, and a guinea for any one who did not occupy that privileged position. In many instances, the fee was remitted out of consideration of valuable services rendered to the Burgh by the newly-elected burgess.

In the year 1740, the Town Council, anxious probably to rid themselves, if possible, of the continuous domination of the Crichtons, by one or other of whom the provostship appeared likely to be monopolised, passed an Act that “ neither Provost nor Dean of Guild shall continue longer than for two years in the same station, and that one of the three Bailies shall be changed yearly,” but, in 1746, they rescinded this resolution, finding that the Sett, as established by the Royal Burrows, ought and only can be the Rule in the matter,” and the Crichtons remained in possession of the chair from 1718 (however long before that date) to 1772.

In the year 1732, there began a practice of taking, in addition to the oath defideli administratione officii and the ordinary Oath of Allegiance to the King, at the time of the annual election of Council, a special oath of a more explicit and comprehensive character, containing acknowledgment and abjuration with reference to the claims of the Stuarts to the throne of the realm. The taking of this oath by the Council was an annual observance down to the year 1860. The following was the form of oath :—

“I Undersubscriver do truly and sincerely acknowledge, profess, testify, and declare in my Conscience before God and the World that our Sovereign Lord King George the Second is lawfull and rightfull King of Great Britain and all others his Majesties dominions thereunto belonging, And I do solemnly and sincerely Declare that I do believe in my Conscience that the person pretended to be Prince of Wales dureing the life-of the late King James and since his decease pretending to be and takeing upon himself the style and title of the King of England by the name of James the third or of Scotland by the name of James the eight or the style and title of King of Great Brittain, hath not any right or title whatsoever to the Crown of the Realm or any other the Dominion thereunto belonging, And I do renounce refuse and abjure any Allegiance or obedience to him, and I do swear that I will bear faithfull and true allegiance to his Majesty King George the Second and him will defend to the utmost of my power against all Treasons and traitorous Conspiracies and attempts whatsomever or which shall be made against his person and Government, And I will do my utmost Endeavour to disclose and make known to his Majesty and his Successors all Treason and traitorous Conspiracies which I shall know to be against him or any of them, And I do faithfully promise to the utmost of my power to Support, Maintain and Defend the succession of the Crown in the Heirs of the "Body of the late Princess Sophia, Electoress and Dutches of Hanover being Protestants against him the said James and all other persons qtsocver and all these things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and Swear according to the Express words by me spoken and accordingly to the plain Commousense and understanding of the same words without any Equivocation Mental Evation or Secret reservation whatsoever and I do make this Recognition Acknowledgment Abjuration Renonnciation and Promise heartily willingly and truly. —So help me God. ”

When this oath was dispensed with in 1860, a new one for Councillors was substituted.

The first list of the Councillors in the Minute Book contains the names of twenty-one persons, but we presume the four in excess of the number given as the constitution of the Council to have been the deacons of incorporated trades, who are so enumerated and designed regularly thereafter along with the Council. The constitution, as fixed by the Convention, continued to be the constitution of the Council down to the year 1852, when, by the Act 15 and 16 Viet., cap. 32, it was altered, one bailie and seven councillors being struck oif, thus reducing the total number to nine, at which it now stands. The qualification of councillors remains very much as it was, they requiring to reside or be traders within the bounds of the burgh. The ancient system of burgesses—that is, those who had purchased the freedom of trading in the burgh, with all the privileges thereto belonging—passed away with the Reform Act of 1832, but the form is still so far observed in connection with the election of town councillors, for each person so appointed must take the oath, and be admitted a burgess of the burgh, before taking the oath de fldeli administratione officii. Although obviously it was intended that the Council should be made up of those who were bona fide inhabitants of the burgh, we find that a practice sprang up of electing persons who might have an interest, through the possession of property, in the town, and who came under the designation of “ heretors,” but possessed no other qualification. From the list which is printed in the Appendix, it will be seen that persons of high distinction—such as, the Duke of Queens-berry, Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, Lord Elliock, James Fergusson of Craigdarroch, the Earl of Dalkeith, the Marquis of Queensberry, James M'Turk of Steuhouse, J. Macalpine Leny of Dalswinton, John Maxwell of Terra ugh tie, and other territorial magnates — had seats at the Council, as well as numerous farmers in the neighbourhood—William Mackay, Castlemains; William Johnstone, Clackleith; William Aird, Kelloside; Robert Lorimer, Gateside; William Thomson, Auchengruith; William Wilson, Butknowe, &c. It might, at first sight, appear that such an appointment would be beneath the notice of noblemen and gentlemen, many of whom had no direct interest in the town, but the secret of that interest may be found in the power possessed by the Town Council in the election of a Member of Parliament. The appointment of some of them was doubtless meant as a personal compliment, and was bestowed with an eye to favours to be received in return. In the case of several of these nonresident councillors, their connection was merely nominal. The Duke of Queensberry’s lasted only for a year, and the attendance of several others was very sparing; indeed, both the Marquis of Queensberry and Lord Dalkeith resigned on the ground that their other engagements prevented them from a discharge of the duties, but several did give a fairly regular attendance, and continued in office for years. This was the case with Lord Elliock, who, however, though not resident in the burgh, was a near neighbour; but the greatest influence exercised by any councillor of this class was by Major Crichton,

Chamberlain to the Duke of Buccleuch, during his seventeen years’ provostship, from 1815 to 1832. Major Crichton was a great man in his day, and his name is still frequently referred to by the older people in the district, for the authority and influence which he wielded over the whole of Upper Nithsdale, by reason of his commanding business talents-The presence of such a man at the council board of the town might, therefore, have been of inestimable value but for the natural leaning which he evidently had to study, first of all, the interests of his master, when these, as occasionally happened, came into conflict with those of the town. An example of this is seen in the controversy that arose over the division of the Muir, where the councillor was lost in the factor.

Not alone in this way were the Council brought into touch with the great ones of the earth. They were possessed of the patronage of two appointments—which were highly esteemed and much sought after—those of Commissioner to the Convention of Royal Burghs and of Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The Commission to the Convention of Burghs was most frequently conferred on the Provost (see Appendix), but occasionally on a stranger. For several years after 1718, the appointment was held by Mr George Irving of Newton, a man evidently of great ability, to whom reference is more fully made elsewhere. The Hon. Patrick Boyle of Shewalton, a lord of Session, sat for the burgh in 1747 ; the Clerks of Drumcrieff between 1763 and 1769 ; and Sir William Johnstone Hope, Bart., K.C.B., in 1816.

The list of Commissioners to the General Assembly embraces several names of distinction—the above Mr Irving and the above Patrick Boyle ; Charles Erskine of Barjarg, Solicitor-General for Scotland; George Jardine, Professor of Logic in Glasgow University; Archibald Arthur, Professor of Moral Philosophy there; Sheriff Veitch of Elliock. The last-named had the honour conferred upon him unsolicited, the Council being moved thereto solely by a consideration of his unblemished reputation as a judge, and the general esteem in which he was held as one of the landed gentry of the neighbourhood. The honour thus freely conferred was continued without interruption for 22 years, from 1846 to 1867. The appointment of a commissioner to the Assembly had been made, up to this time, almost without fail, but the majority of the Council being now dissenters, in whom the odium theobgicum was rather strongly developed, could not reconcile it to their conscience to have anything to do with the Kirk, even by such an appointment. The re-appointment of Sheriff Veitch was opposed, and the name of one was substituted who they knew was not likely to attend; but when the matter next came up, they were not content to make a sham appointment of this sort, but declined to make any appointment whatever. The nomination continued vacant till 1884-, when they agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to appoint the Rev. William Hastie, “the sole reason,” so the minute runs, “for allowing this appointment is that, Mr Hastie being a native of the parish, they are desirous of giving him the opportunity of vindicating himself in the charges made against him.” These charges were made by the Foreign Mission Committee of the Church in connection with his work as Principal of the College at Calcutta.

The Commissioner appointed by the Town Council to the General Assembly was obliged to take and subscribe the following oath :—

“I do sincerely own and declare the Confession of Faith approven by former General Assemblies of this Church, and ratified by Law in the year 109U, to be the Confession of my Faith, and that I own the Doctrine therein contained to be true Doctrine, which I will constantly adhere to, as likeways that I own and acknowledge Presbyterian Church government of this Church now settled by Law, by Kirk Sessions, Presbyteries, Provintial Synods, and General Assemblies to be the only Government of this Church, and that I Submitt thereto, Concur therewith, and never Endeavour directly or indirectly the Prejudice or Subversion thereof, And that I shall observe uniformity of Worship, And of the Administration of all publick ordinances within this Church, as the same are at present performed and allowed.”

Dean of Guild.

In connection with the Town Council there was an official called the Dean of Guild, who acted in conjunction with a court of his own, not necessarily of councillors, but of skilled men to assist him in the discharge of his duties, and in determining the matters that came under his jurisdiction. Trade Guilds were of ancient origin ; they were anterior to, and laid the foundation of municipal government. The Dean of Guild derives his appointment in different ways in different burghs. In large burghs, such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, he is appointed still by the incorporated trades, and has a seat at the Town Council ex-officio, but in small burghs he is, and always appears to have been, a councillor appointed to the office. The office at one time was regarded as one of honour and consequence, for we find that, in most cases, two persons were “listed,” as it was called, for the provostship, who thereupon withdrew from the meeting. When the provost had been appointed, they were called in, and the office of Dean of Guild was conferred upon the unsuccessful candidate for the provostship, by whom it was uniformly accepted, so that it would appear that this official was regarded as next in dignity to the provost. He was, as we have said, assisted by a certain number of capable men, appointed by himself, and they formed the Dean of Guild Court, of which he was the head. The powers and duties of this court were of some importance at one time. Among others, they had the oversight of weights and measures and other matters relating to trade, and likewise had the power of settling disputes as to the boundaries of property, and were responsible to see that no encroachment took place by building along the line of the streets. In later times, the constitution and working of this court have become somewhat obscured in the smaller burghs. A dispute arose in the year 1880, when the Dean asked the advice of the Council with regard to “a, certain house at Corseburn, which jutted out on the street in an unseemly manner, and was at present unroofed and being raised in the walls.” He was defeated in an action of interdict raised in the Sheriff Court, and now the standing of the Dean and his Court is in greater doubt than ever. In the exercise of his powers in determining disputes as to boundaries of property, there were certain officers of court called “birleymen” (mentioned in 1732), who appear to have been petty officers appointed by the Council to see the orders of the Dean of Guild Court given effect to. In those days, when there were no regular fences, the boundaries were marked by large stones called pitt-stones, and, in the case quoted, it is said that “ pitt stones are now sett and Coals laid below the same .” The reason of laying coals below the pitt or boundary stones was probably for the purpose of identification. Before the land had been improved, boulders were not uncommon, and, if any dispute arose as to which were the pitt stones, the coal underneath would determine the point. These Birleymen had to give their “ solemn oaths to act faithfully therein according to their knowledge.”

Revenues

An important revenue was derived by burghs in the olden time, and down to a very recent period, from the exaction of petty customs upon goods brought into or passing out of the burgh. The Table of Customs in this burgh was as follows—

For each score of Horses or Marcs, old or young—Thirteen shillings four pennies Scots money.

For each score of Black Cattle, old or young—Thirteen shillings four pennies Scots.

For each score of Sheep or Lambs—Three shillings four pennies Scots.

For each Corded Pack of Goods—Two shillings money foresaid.

For each load of Meal or other kind whatsoever brought into the Mercat for sale or carried by the Burgh—One shilling money foresaid.

For each Merchant Stand, covered—Two shillings money foresaid.

For each Web of Cloth of whatsoever kind—Four pennies money foresaid.

For each Spaniol of Worsted of Yarn, Linen or Woollen—Four pennies money foresaid.

For each Cart Load of Wine, Brandy, or other goods—Four shillings money foresaid.

For each Pack of Wool—One shilling money foresaid.

For each Load of Beer or Malt imported into the Burgh—One shilling money foresaid.

By an ordinance of 1831, custom was not to be leviable on Milk, nor on loads of less than one hundredweight. This latter provision led, on one occasion, to an amusing scene. A customer had just had a cwt. of salt put on his cart at Mr Halliday’s shop. The town officer, old James Black, always on the outlook, pounced upon him for custom. The carter quietly opened the bag, and seized a handful of the salt, which he scattered on the street. “There,” said he, “it’s not a hundredweight noo.”

Note.—A Burgess was only charged half dues, and Burgesses residing in the Newtown, which is outside the royalty, were accorded the same privilege, provided they would serve as constables within the burgh when required.

There were also dues for the weighing of goods at the Trone, which was erected in 1740, under the following regulations:—

Each Pack of Wool brought to the Burgh or to the Trone to be weighted—One shilling Scots.

Each Stone of Wool, Butter, Cheese, Tallow, Lint, Hemp, Tow or Leather, or other goods sold at the Trone—One shilling Scots.

A Burgess was only charged half dues on the above.

Each pound weight of any of the said goods—Two pennies Scots, whether Burgess or not.

The tacksman had to give attendance at the Trone on Tuesday and Friday weekly, and at all other times when called. The revenue amounted to about £3 per annum.

Further, Meal brought in for sale had to be brought to the Meal Market, where certain dues were also exacted. These Market Dues were let, but did not bring a large sum—only about two guineas a year.

The Dung on the street was also let, the tacksman being bound to remove it twice a week. It yielded a trifling sum.

A revenue, amounting on the average to about £13 per

annum, was also realised from Stent and Teind, payable by . the heritors who held the grassum of the lands, which were subsequently alienated from the town at the division of the Muir.

Sums of money, being the Fees of admission of Burgesses, were also continually falling into the town’s treasury. These fees varied, as already stated, from a guinea to five shillings, but, in a few cases of large traders, such as John Halliday, the fee was two guineas.

There were also Fees or Fines exacted from a class of traders called Stallangers, that is, Stallholders, who, not being Burgesses or Freemen, set up stalls at the market for the sale of goods. Latterly they were allowed by the Corporation, on payment of a certain fee, to trade in the town for a year, but this payment had to be repeated, and they, had none of the other privileges of a burgess.

These, together with the rents of small patches of land, formed the minor branches of income, the bulk of which was derived from the lands belonging to the burgh, lordship on minerals—a very lucrative source, as we elsewhere see—and the petty customs. The lands and minerals have already been dealt with, and the history of the Customs will now be traced. The Customs were, for a considerable time, let by public roup, and were farmed by all sorts of people—the Provost sometimes, or a trader of the town. Caution had to be found for the rent, and this security was not unnecessary, for occasionally the cautioner had to be called upoD. In particular years, however, the tacksman was allowed a rebate, owing to the depression of trade, which of course affected traffic and customs to a very considerable extent. They were let in 1727 at Sixty-six pounds Scots. During the first half of the present century, they varied from £18 18s to £35 os—averaging £27. In the year 1850, the Magistrates, not being able to obtain a satisfactory bid at the annual let of the Customs, resolved to collect them by some person to be employed for that purpose. This arrangement did not work well, and in 1852 they were again exposed to let, but, no offer being forthcoming, the Council resolved to employ their own officer in their collection.

On the opening of the railway in 1850, a question was at once raised as to the liability of the railway company to pay custom on goods carried by them through the burgh. The company demanded a sight of the charter, and a copy was sent them, and a deputation of the Couucil went to Glasgow to discuss the matter with the Directors. The latter offered an annual sum of £35, but the Council stood out for £70. It was ultimately adjusted at £40, which was increased after five years to £45. Meanwhile the question of liability was being tried by an action between the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Company and the Burgh of Liulithgow, which dragged its weary length along, and was only decided in the House of Lords in 1859. The decision was in favour of the railway company. The contract for a payment of £45 per annum for five years, entered into in 1857 between the Glasgow and South-Western Company and the town, was still running, but the company at once gave notice that, in face of the Linlithgow decision, they would pay no longer. The Council attempted to hold them to the contract, but in vain, and this important source of revenue was lost. Though the railway company was thus freed from liability in custom on goods carried along their line through the burgh, there was still the question of custom for goods brought to the railway station, and delivered therefrom. The company, encouraged by the decision in the Linlithgow case, refused to pay this custom as well, and an action was raised by the Council, in which they were successful. A further action, in vindication of the town’s rights had to be raised at Ayr in 1883, against Messrs Sanger, circus proprietors, who had passed through the burgh some days before, and refused to pay. In this action the Council were also successful, but Mr Sanger had ample revenge five years later, when, on passing south through the burgh, and again refusing to pay, the town officer, acting on instructions, seized one of the performing horses. The incident occurred on a Sabbath day, and caused great excitement in the town. In regard to the merits of the question, however, a great and vital change had taken place, through the operation of a clause in the Roads and Bridges Act, which had been passed in 1878, and which clause, together with others, was only to come into force ten years after the passing of the Act—that is to say, in 1888. This clause made it appear at least doubtful wrhether the burghs were entitled any longer to exact through-custom. The attention of members of the Council had been drawn to the clause shortly after its coming’into force, and they were cautioned to satisfy themselves, lest their right should one day be challenged ; but the caution was disregarded, and Mr Sanger’s refusal found them unprepared with legal advice. No doubt Mr Sanger had satisfied himself of his ground, and that accounted for the significantly quiet manner in which he allowed the officer to seize his valuable horse. The Town Council speedily found that they were wrong, and hastened to restore the horse and pay all necessary costs. Having made this reparation, they fondly hoped they had reached the end of the notable incident, but they were not to be so easily let off. Mr Sanger had beeu nursing his wrath since his prosecution in 1883, and now his chance had come. The Council had walked into the trap, and he would have his revenge. He raised an action of damages, and a process of “haggling” began. The Council, instead of making the best of a bad job and getting the matter closed, acted in a wavering, undecided fashion. They offered something less than Mr Sanger demanded, and meanwhile the lawr expenses were mounting up. Another higher offer was made, to be met by a higher claim, founded on the increased expense incurred by the pursuer, and so the miserable business went on till, at length, a deputation was appointed to meet Mr Sanger’s agent, and effect a settlement somehow. The result was, the Council had to pay £50 damages, and the whole expense incurred by them amounted to about £70. Thus ended what has been called the famous circus-horse case.

The Table of Customs was now reduced to very small dimensions. All through-traffic, whether by road or rail, was free, and the through-customs derived from the railway company, and from droves of cattle and sheep, had been always the principal part. Now, all that remained was that derived from goods brought into the town to market or taken out for sale. A large part of the officer’s time was taken up in watching for the opportunity of picking up twopence now and again. The question, therefore, became—Was the game worth the candle ? and it was taken up, and became a burning question both in the Council and outside. The Council were compelled to come to a decision by a notice from the railway company, in January, 1889, that they would no longer pay even on the goods delivered from the station. After negotiations, the company offered to refer the matter to eminent counsel. The Town Council proposed a friendly small debt action, which the company declined, and repeated their offer of arbitration. Discussion was carried on from meeting to meeting of the Council. After several months’ wrangling, it was proposed to continue the collection of customs, but the proposal was defeated by an amendment counselling delay. It was brought up again at a meeting on 17th May, when the opponents boldly met it with a resolution “that the Council abolish the custom,” which latter was adopted, and so the final end of this long and bitter controversy was at last reached. The question was argued both on the ground of principle and expediency. It was pointed out that the whole system of customs of this description was out of harmony with the spirit of the times— was, in truth, a relic of a pre-reform age ; and certainly it was a striking spectacle to witness a council and a community, who make a boast of their Liberalism, clinging so tenaciously to ancient privilege, so foreign to the creed which they professed. But, apart from principle, the maintenance of these imposts was questionable upon economic grounds. The greater proportion of the amouut realised would now be spent in the costs of collection. Their abolition would enable the Council to effect a saving in their officer’s wages, and this was the view which prevailed, and which gave the death-blow to these old standing exactions.

Having thus dealt with the Revenues of the Town Council, let us now turn to their powers and duties.

The Magistrates were clothed with powers of civil and criminal jurisdiction. In civil matters, their powers corresponded very much with those now exercised by Justices of the Peace, and covered the minor class of business that now falls to the Sheriff. They had the granting of licences for the sale of intoxicating liquor in their hands ; a power of which they appear to have made free use, for we find that the number of licensed houses in the year 1813 was 18 ; while those holding ale certificates alone, numbered 21. These licence holders were classified into vintners, change-keepers, innkeepers, or stablers. Their aid was likewise invoked in the recoveiy of small debts. In 1718, there is a minute that warrants were, at the instance of a creditor, granted by a bailie for the arrestment in the hands of a third party of funds belonging to his debtor. Their authority was further exercised in certain ways, which were quite conform to the ideas of the time, but to matters which now appear to us extraordinary. Thus, in the year 1728, “the Magistrates and Council considering the great straits and necessities that Masters and Labourers of the ground are driven and constrained to by the fraud and malice of servants who refuse to be hired without great and extraordinary wages promised to them and cast themselves Loose knowing that the People who have necessary to do with Labour will be forced to hire them at daily and weekly wages, and such high rates as they please to the great harm of his Majesty’s Leidges, And also the said Provost Baillies and Council considering that manv such Loose and Idle People who ought to be at service have resorted to and are daily resorting to this Burgh For Remeed Whereof the said Provost Baillies and Council Do Hereby Discharge the haill Burgesses and Inhabitants within this Burgh and territories thereof from Setting Houses, giveing any Iutertainment, Lodging, Succour or Relief to such Idle, Loose and Solitary men and women, without first acquainting the Provost Baillies and Council and getting allowance from them, therefore Certifieing the Contraveners that they shall be lyable in a fine of ten merks Scots money for every oflence.”

They likewise exercised a censorship on public morals. In 1727 we have this salutary enactment:—“The Magistrates and Council ordaine and appoint that whatsomever person or persons, burgesses or inhabitants, within this brugh after the day and date shall be found guilty and convicted of open and publick scolding, railing, swearing on the public street or otherways abusing of their neighbours within house or other people strangers or any burgess or inhabitant within this brugh, And whatsomever person or persons forsaid shall be found guilty and convicted of habitual drinking, cursing and swearing, and shall then curse and abuse any of the Magistrates, Clerk, Councillors, Deacons of Craft or any other Burgess or tradesman, their families, or people that are strangers of good repute, he shall immediately after conviction be banished this burgh and the territories thereof by Haile of Drum, and shall lose the privileges and liberties of the burgh.” Similar provisions follow for the prevention of the harbouring of strangers, vagrants, and suspicious persons.

Even so late as the year 1838, there is an ordinance of a similar kind, which would not be amiss were it enforced at the present day. “ The Magistrates and Council instruct their officer, until he gets contrary orders, to prevent as much as possible groups of children, boys and girls, from collecting together about the corners of houses or on the public streets or lanes of the Burgh, and upon all occasions to disperse them when he finds them so collected, with the view of preventing them from troubling, annoying, and molesting the public at large, as has been much the case of late; and in the event of any one of them refusing to disperse when desired, instruct the officer to bring them shewing such contumacy or caught in the commission of any act of molestation before the Magistrates, or Provost, to be dealt with by Fine or Imprisonment as may be judged expedient.”

Their solicitude for the public welfare manifested itself not only with regard to the good manners of the inhabitants, but also to their comfort in even minute particulars, for, in 1753, “Two shillings were given to James Kellock, officer, for expense of powder and lead or otherways shooting Dogs within the Burgh.”

Besides the powers which they possessed in these and other civil matters, the Magistrates also exercised a considerable criminal jurisdiction. Courts were held as occasion required, and a burgh fiscal was an appointment held by one or other of the legal gentlemen in the place. Reference is made in a minute in 1838 to the fact that “ Mr Robert Dryden, formerly writer in Sanquhar, who lias for many years held the office of Burgh Fiscal, is now unable longer to discharge the duties of said office, James Whigham is appointed in his room, at a salary of Five pounds per annum.”

The position and duties of the Burgh Officer are defined in the paragraph under that heading. Here, however, it may be stated that he was the jailer of the town, and served the warrants of the Magistrates connected with their whole civil and criminal jurisdiction.

In addition, a body of constables was regularly appointed, who could be called upon, if necessary, for the maintenance of the public peace. They received batons of office, and were allowed a small fee for their services, their appointment being for six months. In 1815, there is a note that “the Constables resigned their Battons, as the term of their appointment was elapsed, and the Magistrates direct the Treasurer to pay to the said constables the sums formerly allowed to them.” Seven persons, whose names are given, are then appointed in their room, who “being present, accepted of their offices, and gave their Oath clefideli in common form.”

One of the chief duties of the Magistrates in this connection was, of course, the preservation of good order within the burgh, for which they were responsible to the Crown, but the}’ likewise dealt with ordinary police offences and kindred matters. As an example, we give the case of two men, iu the year 1718, who are ordered, at the instance of James Kellock, Fiscal of Court, to appear “in ane court to be held within the Tolbooth of said burgh, for their fighting, strugling, batering or brusing ane another, and to swear by the Law of God.” The punishment of theft was to stand in the Joggs (elsewhere described), and to undergo a term of imprisonment. A story is told of a woman, who was led through the town by the officer with a halter round her neck, and with a placard on her back, bearing the words—“ This is a thief.” This latter mode of punishment was quite in accord with a system in vogue throughout the country, as we learn from the annals of that period. It certainly was rough and ready, but it had this recommendation, which all punishments should more or less have, it was calculated to have a deterrent effect upon other offenders.

The crime of poaching, too, came under the cognisance of the burgh authorities. One William Kirk, in the year 1719, a “fowler” in Sanquhar, “pleads guilty of spoiling His Grace the Duke of Queensberry and Dover of his game, and is ordered to go to John Dalrymple of Waterside, his Grace’s bailly, and satisfy him, and that under paine of one hundred merks Scots.” Reference may also be made to the penalty attached to plucking, trampling, or otherwise destroying the Pease, which the Magistrates ordained should be grown by each heritor possessed of land on the Muir.

The smuggling of brandy and foreign spirits seems to have been practised in the burgh to some extent in last century, and the Provost, Bailies, Council, and Deacons of Trades, in 1730, taking into consideration “the pernitious effects of the Clandestine Importation and open consumption of Brandy within this burgh and neighbourhood thereof, And appearing evidently to them that considerable sums of money are yearly expended for purchasing this unnecessary commodity, And being resolved for the good of this Burgh to take an Effectual Course for preventing and restraining such Courses for the time to come Do therefore statute and ordain That no person or persons within this burgh shall Import, Resett, Sell, or Retail Brandy of Foreign Spirits contrail- to Law, Certifieing hereby the Contraveener or Contraveeners That the}' shall not only be and are hereby lyable to a Fyne of Five pouud sterling for every such offence, But also Declared Incapable of bearing any publick office within the Burgh in time comeing.”

Such, in general, were the powers of criminal jurisdiction with which Magistrates in burghs were clothed, but, important though they were, they fell far short of those with which they were originally endowed. A reference to the Charter of the burgh shews that they could even inflict capital punishment, but it is not to be inferred from this that they were empowered to try prisoners charged with murder, for the death penalty was, in those days, and down to a much later period, incurred for such comparatively minor offences as forgery, sheep-stealing, theft, &c.

The exercise of criminal jurisdiction by the Magistrates of Sanquhar ceased from the year 1838, when the Council resolved not to appoint a Burgh Fiscal.

Duties and Obligations

A duty imposed in early days on the Magistrates was the execution of the Brieves of Chancery (this is referred to in the Burgh Charter) in connection with questions of heirship and succession. The brief having boon received was put into the hands of the Town Officer, by whom proclamation was made at the Cross indicating its nature, and calling on all objectors to appear. Thereafter, it was remitted to a jury of fifteen, who, haying chosen their Chancellor, instituted an inquest into the facts, examined, on oath, witnesses, the officer with regard to the due service of the brief, and persons who could speak from personal knowledge of the propinquity of the claimant to the deceased, whereupon the claimant’s declaration was read, that the deceased had died “ at the faith and peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, and that he was his nearest and lawful heir,” and if no objector appeared, they pronounced their verdict, which was reported to the Magistrates, by whom it was notified and forwarded to Chancery.

Further, the Magistrates issued warnings to remove at the instance of landlords of house property. These warnings were served by the Town Officer, by marking, with a cross, the door of the person against whom the warrant had been granted. In the event of these warnings being disregarded, a court was held on the Term day, when warrants of ejectment were issued, which were executed in a summary manner. This custom is still in force.

Elsewhere, it is stated that, in return for the exceptional privileges and immunities conferred upon Burghs, they were liable for contributions to the Crown for expenses in time of war, in days when there was no regular standing army, and for other purposes which have been specified. These contributions were mainly made by the Convention on behalf of the whole burghs, but each burgh was individually liable for certain contributions, which were raised by a Cess, corresponding to the modern word assessment, levied upon the Heritors within the Burgh. A Cess of this kind “for the King” was made in 1719, and repeatedly thereafter.

The Burgh was also liable in its proportion of the schoolmaster’s salary, and this was frequently collected along with the Cess for the King. In the case above-mentioned, “the Council laid on Four Months’ Cess to be uplifted out of the burgh from the Heritors, three to the King, and one to Mr John Hunter, schoolmaster.” The appointment of schoolmaster was in the hands of the Duke of Queensberry as the principal Heritor, but the Town Council exercised some influence in the matter. For example, in 1738, they made a representation to the Duke that “ neither of the two John Hunters (the one a son of James Hunter in Brakenside and the other a son of Samuel Hunter in Tower) Recommended are their choice to be schoolmaster of Sanquhar, and a great part of the Council and Paroch declareing their regard for William M'George, late schoolmaster, and that they were satisfied he were restored to this office, they do humbly propose him.” The result was that the. Duke’s commissioners gracefully left the appointment of schoolmaster to the free choice of the Council, and M'George was restored.

The theory of the law as to streets in burghs is} that they are held by the Magistrates, under the Crown for the benefit of the public. Their maintenance and repair, therefore, fell upon the civic authorities, and it appears that the means adopted by them to perform this duty was, in former times, to call in the service of the inhabitants. Thus, in 1721, the Council appoint two overseers “for mending and making good the King’s highway within the Territories of the Burgh of Sanquhar, and do hereby order and ordaine all Heritors, Burgesses, and Inhabitants within the burgh to attend three full days as duly advertised for that effect to Mend the Highways and to furnish all necessar work, under penalty of eighteen shillings Scots for ilk deficient person ilk day.” The first paving of the street took place in 1728. The following is the minute thereanent :—“The Provost, Baillies and Council considering the Inconveniency and loss the Burgh sustains through the Badness of their Causay, Therefore they, with the unanimous advice and consent of the haill Heretors and Burgesses of this present, do appoint and ordain that the publick street of the said Burgh be causaved, And for that end appoint that each inhabitant who hath keeped a Horse for half ane year by gone shall be oblidged to lead a Rood of Stones for the said Causay betwixt and the first of March next to come, and the Causaying to be begun against the said first of March next, And each person oblidged by this act to lead a Rood of Stones failing to do the same in the terms mentioned shall be lyable and is hereby fined in six pounds Scots money to be applied for leading the said rood of stones; And appoint Stentmaster, for stenting the said Burgh proportionally according to their Interest and ability for raising a fund for working the said Causay, and appoint a stent-roll to be made up accordingly.” In December of that year a contract was entered into “with James Miller and Alexander Kay, both masons and causayers in Kilsyth for to work the said causay as follows, viz.:—The said contractors are to redd the ground and lay a sufficient causay full Five Elves brode upon the publick street of this Burgh from the Townhead to near the Crossknow being about Fifty Roods of Causay or thereby .... and the Town is to furnish stones, sand, and other materials necessary, and to give ready service to the Contractors, and to pay them three pounds, six shillings and eight pennies Scots money for each rood.” A subsequent minute states the cost to have been one hundred and twenty-eight pounds, fourteen shillings Scots, the quantity proving much less than had been calculated.

In 1789, “the Magistrates, considering that there is an application to be made to Parliament next session for a Bill for making a Turnpike road from the confines of the County of Ayr by this Town, Dumfries and Annan towards Graitney which will require a considerable sum to compleat. the same They Hereby Impower the Provost to subscribe for one sum of one hundred pounds sterling for the said Road.” Prior to this time, the provisions for the maintenance of highways were very indefinite, but, during the last thirty years of the eighteenth century, there was a perfect spate of Acts of Parliament for this purpose. So far as this district was concerned, a service of the highest value and importance was rendered voluntarily by the Duke of Queensberry, who, towards the beginning of last century, constructed, in a great measure at his own expense, twenty-two miles of road through his estate from Thornhill to the borders of Ayrshire, so that, through His Grace’s enlightened policy, Upper Nithsdale, for a whole century, enjoyed an advantage in this respect denied to many districts of the country.

An Act was passed in 1777, which constituted Road Districts, the parishes of Sanquhar, Kirkconnel, Durisdeer, Morton, Closeburn, and Penpont forming the sixth division, but, while providing for the improvement of the roads in Annandale, it made no similar provision so far as regarded Nithsdale, and it seems to have been to supply this defect that the above-mentioned Bill was brought in in 1790. The turnpike roads were maintained by the s}^stem of Tolls which was set up at this period. That portion which passed through the town was always maintained by the Town Council. We have shewn when it was first causewayed, and much expense was incurred in its repair from time to time. There is little doubt that it ran, at one time, at a lower level, in fact, that it dipped down to the Corseburn, which then ran across the road, but that a great improvement was effected by the cutting through of the Crossknowe, and the levelling up of the ground at the Corseburn. This is confirmed by the fact that the old houses along the road, at this point, were at a lower level than the road itself, and one had to step down into them. Conclusive proof of the fact was at length forthcoming when the common sewer was constructed in 1877. When passing this point, two distinct pavements or causeways were laid bare, which had been simply covered at two successive periods when this levelling up process had taken place. An Act was passed in 1865 for the management of the whole roads in the county by divisions, conferring powers of assessment for the purpose, and reserving to the Trustees the discretionary power to continue or abolish the Tolls on the Turnpike Roads. The Trustees of this district wisely chose the latter alternative, and, henceforth, these vexatious interruptions were finally removed. In 1871, the Magistrates petitioned the Trustees to take over the management of the roads in the burgh, and this was done, the Council undertaking, on their part, “to sweep the streets as heretofore.” Immediately on this being arranged, the Trustees ordered the old-fashioned causeway to be taken up, and the roadway macadamised in a manner to bring it into uniformity with the rest of the road.

A change was made in the part of the turnpike road between Sanquhar and Kirkconnel in the years 1824-1826. Prior to that time, the road was what is now called the “old road”—that is, the road leading to Crawick Mill. At certain parts it was narrow and very steep. The bridge over Crawick, which still stands, is one of the old-fashioned, narrow, high-backed sort. The road passed thence due north, and, swinging round behind Whitehill farmhouse, made a sharp turn to the left, proceeding thence in a straight line past Gateside. The new road commencing just behind the Town Hall, inclines to the left for 100 yards or so, turns sharp to the right, and heads straight for Whitehill, thus passing through the lower lands, and avoiding the hills which the old road encountered. It cuts through the Manse avenue about the centre, and is carried over the Crawick by a good bridge, about 300 yards lower down than the old one, and joins the main road a little further north. This was a great improvement, and cost the Road Trustees nearly £800.

In addition to these obligations which were laid upon them, the Magistrates voluntarily undertook measures which seemed likely to promote the prosperity of the town, or which the circumstances of the people demanded. We have already seen that, during a great dearth and scarcity which occurred in the year 1812, they secured a supply of meal for the use of the inhabitants, which they sold at a sacrifice iu price, spending in this way over £70; and that they seldom failed to respond to the repeated appeals that were made to them by the unemployed weavers. In the year 1814, they paid “ for Premiums and other expenses attending establishing of a Public Market ” the large sum of £175 18s 1d. There had always been fair days in the burgh, the right to hold them being conferred by the Charter, but this entry in the accounts points, in all probability, to the origin of the great Lamb and Wool fair held in July, which grew in importance, till latterly it was# regarded as second only to that of Inverness. These two markets occurring early in the season give the first indication of the general average of prices that are likely to prevail during the autumn sales. Sanquhar is what is called a “character” market, that is, the stocks are not shewn, but are bought and sold by the reputation which they severally have acquired among dealers. In the prosperous times about the year 1872, it is said that transactions took place at the Sanquhar market which represented no less a sum than one hundred thousand pounds. At first, there was held on this market day a show of sheep stock, tups, &c., for which premiums were offered, and this explains the mention of premiums in the above expenditure. In the Dumfries Magazine of 1826, there is a notice of “the Tup show held at the July Market, at which prizes were given for the improvement of the breed, when the following were the prize-takers :—For Blackfaced, Mr Kennedy, Tynron Kirk ; and for Cheviots, Mr M'Turk, Kirkland, Kirkmichael so that it would appear that the competition was open, and not merely local. The Council continued to contribute £4 per annum for “Tup Premiums down to the year 1842.” In truth, the fair or market was called the Tup Fair, a name to which many of the older people adhere to this day.

The fairs authorised by the Charter were latterly held quarterly, and in 1858 the Council, to remove the uncertainty that then prevailed as to the days on which they should be held, ordained “that they be on the 13th day of February, May, August, and November, if the 13th falls on a Friday, if not, on the first Friday of the month after that date.”

Another effort of a similar kind was made by the Conncil in 1833, when “being of opinion that Sanquhar is a very likely place for establishing a pork market, weekly on the Tuesdays, the Council resolve that an attempt should be made to set a market on foot on that day of the week, and to give from the Burgh funds one sovereign to the individual who shall sell at it the greatest quantity of pork carcasses during the season, and another sovereign to the individual who at it shall purchase the greatest quantity of pork carcasses during the season.” The premiums of a sovereign were paid once, and only once, and the attempt to establish the market proved abortive.

The Council shewed their interest in the cause of education, by giving a room in the Council house, free of rent, “for the use of a school, as an encouragement to teachers to settle in the town.” It was here that school was first kept by Mr Josiah Lorimer, who was afterwards appointed the first teacher of the Crichton Endowed School. Further, in 1831, they conferred free education upon twenty children of poor parents in the Burgh and Newtown of Sanquhar, the nomination being left to the three clergymen of the town, Messrs Montgomery, Reid, and Simpson—Mr Montgomery to name eight, and the others six each, the one-half to be taught by Mr Henderson, parochial teacher, and the other half by Mr Lorimer, who were required to make a quarterly report on the attendance of said free scholars. This grant of free education was continued for years, until the Crichton School was established, where provisions of a similar kind were made.

They also gave donations to national movements; thus they, in the stormy days of ’98, in response to an appeal by the Lord-Lieutenant of the County, subscribed Ten Guineas to the voluntary fund to be raised for the defence of the country. They voted a similar sum in 1815 “towards the Widows and Orphans of the Killed and Wounded at the Battle of Waterlooand in 1854, Five Guineas to the Patriotic Fund “for the relief of the Widows and Children of the Soldiers and Sailors engaged at the seat of the (Crimean) war.”

The Town Clerk

The office of Town Clerk, though always necessary, did not, in the early days of the burgh, entail much work, the business of the Council being entirely local, and quite simple in character. The Clerk’s salary was consequently very small. It was first fixed at one pound per annum, and continued at that figure down to the year 1792, when the Council, “sensible of the very great trouble attendant on the office and Importance of the Trust think themselves warranted to grant an Augmentation more particularly as the Revenue of the town is in a most flourishing state at present,” increased the Clerk’s salary to Five Guineas; and further ordained “that the dues of each Burgess Ticket shall in time coming be two shillings and sixpence stg. instead of one shilling stg., the former allowance, from the Consideration that Wax, Yellum, and Parchment are Considerably increased of late years and that the Town Clerk was rather and has been for some time past a Loser than a gainer in this article.” Further, “they approve of the act of the Council of the nomination of the present Town Clerk at Michaelmas 1789 in its fullest Extent with this addition if not sufficiently secure by that act of Council that he be now appointed Town Clerk ad Vitam aut Culpam, and they therefore Nominate, constitute and appoint him Town Clerk during all the days of his life accordingly with every Emolument, privilege and pertinent belonging to said office, and that in the most free and absolute manner,” &c. In this portentous minute we detect the hand of the crafty lawyer. Taking the Council when they are in the humour—in a generous mood begotten of the good times on which they had fallen—he draws their attention to his miserably inadequate salary, and at once they respond in the most handsome manner, increasing it from a pound to five guineas —guineas, be it observed, a denomination of money so dear to the legal mind. A similarly substantial increase in the table of fees was granted ; for the appeal ad misericordiam, founded on wax and vellum, was irresistible—the losses of the poor town-clerk over his wax would have melted the hardest heart. But the best of all is to come. Hitherto he has had to wait the beck and nod of their worships—to watch the shifting breeze, not as now-a-days of popular opinion, but of power and influence within the Council itself, and to trim his sails accordingly. Now he is to be lifted to a higher plane of official standing. The Provost, uprising, proposes to dispense for the future w7ith the trouble of the annual appointment of their clerk. His (the Clerk’s) father had served the Council for a whole generation ; the son was a worthy successor, and possessed their entire confidence. Besides, he bore the great name of Crichton. Why not appoint him for life? The Provost’s suggestion is received with a chorus of approval, and the thing is done. Now the wily clerk sets himself to frame a Minute, and puts into it all that he knows to make it binding and irrevocable. When the Counqil has dispersed, the Clerk steps out to the street holding his head as high, and carrying himself with as dignified a port, as the Provost himself. But we know what the national poet has said of “the best laid schemes of mice and men,” and so it proved in this case. For a few years only was the Clerk allowed to enjoy his position of security—buttressed with his ad vitam aut culpam. In the year 1805, the Council challenge the validity of the minute of 1792, and restore the status quo ante. The Clerk at once puts himself on his defence. “The said John Crichton (so runs the minute) abides and holds by his nomination in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, and Protests against any alteration of that solemn act of Council made in said year, and takes Instruments and craves Extracts.” The struggle is renewed at next annual election in 1806. It is known in the town that a “scene” is likely to take place, and a crowd of citizens attend the meeting of the Council. This is the first instance of the public being admitted to the Council meetings, which were strictly private, the members even being sworn to secrecy. The Minute continues—“Thereafter the Council proceeded to nominate a person as their clerk for the ensuing year, when John Crichton, their late clerk (this was the form of expression in use in the case of a re-appointment), was proposed and unanimously agreed to by the whole members present, in their face and in the face of a large meeting positively refused to obey the order given him—for which reason the Council were obliged to employ another person to write the same, and which person is Ebenezer Hislop, surgeon, Thornhill. (Signed, Ebenr. Hislop).” The above is in Hislop’s handwriting. The Council then, with an exercise of patience, or restrained, perhaps, by misgivings as to the soundness of their position, hand back the minute book to the recalcitrant clerk, who thereupon adds the following paragraph:—“The said John Crichton abides by his Election of Town Clerk as confirmed to him by a solemn act of Council at Michaelmas 1792, and Protests agt any new Election, being quite contrary to Law and flying in the face of a solemn act of Council.” We can fancy wrhat a storm was this. Both parties recognised the importance of the principle at stake, and fought with determination, and we cannot but admire the courage with which the Clerk, standing alone, sought to maintain his position against an united Council, backed up by popular opinion. The odds were too heavy, and so we find that, after the lapse of another year, he tenders his resignation in the following letter:—“Sanquhar, 5th Oct., 1807.—Gentlemen, From many circumstances, quite unnecessary to mention, I hereby resign the office of Town Clerk conferred upon me for life, and held by me for the last eighteen years, and from the Property and Interest I hold in the Borough, no person will rejoice more than myself to see a proper Person fill the office, than what nothing can be more essential for the welfare and prosperity of the Burgh. Every Book and Paper, &c., connected with the office is ready to be delivered up upon Inventory and Receipt.” This letter does the Clerk the highest credit. The “many circumstances” referred to as causing his resignation can be readily imagined. It was in the power of the Council to make the Clerk’s life, in an official sense, unbearable, and this would appear to have been done. He merely touches with a quiet dignity on his long services, maintaining at the same time his view as to the terms of his appointment, and then, with excellent spirit, free from all feeling of resentment on account of the treatment he had had to endure, he gracefully expresses his good wishes for the welfare and prosperity of the town. The Council should not have been outdone in courtesy, but the spirit they exhibit marks a striking contrast. The Minute simply bears that they “consider said Letter, accept of said Resignation,” and then they proceeded to the election of a successor. However he comported himsel while the struggle lasted, the Clerk, though practically defeated, came out of it with much better grace than his opponents.

The decision in the case of Simpson v. Todd, in 1824, which settled authoritatively the tenure of office of a town-clerk, shews that, apart altogether from the terms of appointment on which he relied, Crichton was in the right, and that he could, had he chosen to appeal to the Court, have turned the tables effectually on the Council. In that case the Lord President (Hope) observed, and it wras concurred in by the other judges, “that it was inconsistent with law to elect a town-clerk during pleasure ; that he was a public officer, entrusted with the performance of important public duties; and that he ought not to be under the apprehension that he was liable to be dismissed at the pleasure, or perhaps the caprice, of the Council.” This decision does not seem to have been known to the town-clerk of Sanquhar till the year 1852, for, down to that year, he is continued in office by express minute after each annual election. The salary of the town-clerk was increased to ten guineas at the appointment of William Smith to the office in 1810, and it has continued at that figure ever since. Of course, the Clerk is entitled to charge for professional work done for the Council outside the sphere of his clerical duties. This account he calls his business account, and it amounted in some years to a heavy sum. The Council in the year 1882 came to an agreement with him that he should receive a regular annual allowance of five guineas for this description of work. In 1852 there is a minute that the Council “ continue Mr Macqueen, Town Clerk, to be Factor for the Burgh for uplifting the rents and revenues of the Burgh as formerly, and upon the same terms.” The arrangement prior to that time as to this factorship seems to have rested on a tacit understanding, for this is the first mention of the matter to be found in the minutes. The commission charged was 2^ per cent., and appears to have been first paid from 1848, down to 1858, when it ceased, the duties in question being now discharged by the Town Treasurer.

The Burgh or Town Officer

The nature and duties of this office have undergone considerable change in the course of time. In the year 1804, the holder is described as “Town Officer, Billet Master, Keeper of the Town Clock, and Lamplighter,” but the office embraced a great deal more than that, so long as the Magistrates possessed their criminal jurisdiction. The officer acted as the jailer, he served all the notices and executed the warrants of the Court, and performed other duties which now devolve upon a police constable. In 1747, the salary attaching to the office was ten shillings a year. It is evident that at one time the officer had an official coat, for we have, in 1807, a payment of £2 15s 8d “ for a coat for the Town Officer.”

Some notable characters have filled this office at one time or another. The first to claim attention is William Kellock, who flourished in the early part of last century. The first mention of his name is in 1718, where we learn something of his official character, for we read that “the Magistrates and Council, considering the good service done by William Kellock, officer of the burgh, cancel and discharge him of what Feu duty he is owing preceding this date to the burgh for his house and yeard within the said burgh.” Our interest is greatl}7 increased in this worthy officer by a notice, taken from the Edinburgh Evening Gourant, of April 14, 1743, to the following effect:—“Thursday last, died at Sanquhar, William Kellock, aged 111 years. He served the town as one of their common officers 96 years, and his son, now living, has served in the same station 70 years. He was a very honest man, had his senses to the last, and never made use of spectacles.” We would fain have allowed this interesting paragraph to pass unchallenged, but cannot conscientiously. Happily, nothing can be said against the good name with which he is handed down to posterity, but there are circumstances which cast grave doubt upon the fabulous age here attributed to him, for, we find that, in 1730, just thirteen years before his death, his name is mentioned in the Council Minute book as a witness before the Dean of Guild Court in the case of a disputed march, where he is described as “William Kellock, present of the age of eighty years or thereby.” The “or thereby ” might be allowed to cover a good deal, but scarcely so much as eighteen years—the difference between the one account and the other of his age —and we fear the belief in this centenarian must be given up. Be that as it may—centenarian or no centenarian—he worthily heads the list of the town-officers, so far as they are made known to us by the burgh records.

The next to be noticed is Robert Dargavel, who filled the office for the long period of twenty-eight years—from 1798 to 1826. Robert was a weaver by trade. He was a tall, muscular man, with a commanding voice, and was the terror of all the youngsters about the place; and yet, masterful officer though he was, he suffered a grievous humiliation at the hands of a woman. It came about in this wise—The woman, ordered to jail for an offence, was in the charge of the officer. The two—officer and prisoner—had just got inside the prison, when the latter, by a dexterous manoeuvre, got between the officer and the door, glided swiftly out, closed the door, turned the key in the lock, and made off. The consternation and chagrin of the officer can be imagined. We are surprised to find that the Magistrates, in consequence, dismissed Robert from his office. The minute runs that they “ taking into their consideration the very criminal Neglect of Robert Dargavel present town officer in this town in lately allowing Christian M'Lean a prisoner thro gross negligence escape out of the Jail of this Burgh, Therefore owing to his gross fault and neglect in all respects so Injurious to the Interests of this Burgh unanimously have dismissed and do hereby dismiss him from his present office of Town Officer and Jailor.” Had the Magistrates not been dead to all sense of humour, they could not have taken such a solemn view of the circumstances. Their sentence was altogether too hard upon the poor officer, who must have been sufficiently punished by the chaff to which he would be subjected by the townspeople. It is gratifying, however, to know that, after a short interval, he was restored to his office, which thenceforward he continued to exercise till the day of his death.

He was succeeded by Sergeant Andrew Thomson, nicknamed “Beagle Andrew,” and sometimes “Greenback,” from the fact that he wore a green coat. The sergeant was a fine strapping officer, over six feet in height. He had served his time in the army—was one of the famous Scots Greys who fought at Waterloo, and who elicited the admiration of the great Napoleon, both for their soldierly bearing and their gallantry in action.

Coming down to a later time, we make the acquaintance of another officer who merits particular notice—viz., James Black, than whom no Corporation ever had a more devoted and trustworthy servant. Diligence and fidelity marked the performance of all his work, and notably in the collection of custom. He was not content to lounge about the street, and take what came to his hand, but was ever on the alert for passing traffic. Drovers knew the sort of man they had to deal with, and tried every shift to slip past the burgh without paying the custom. A favourite trick with them was when, on their southward journey, they approached the town, instead of continuing along the turnpike road, they turned down the road to Nith Bridge, and, crossing the river, drove their cattle or sheep down the south side, rejoining the main road further south. But the officer was too many for them. He could not be always at this point, but, by an application of the craft in which the backwoodsman of America excels, he laid a trap for them after the following manner. He procured a quantity of damp earth, a layer of which he laid across the road. Cattle or sheep passing along left their footprints, and these gave the officer all the knowledge he wanted. He visited the place at intervals, and an examination of the ground shewed not only whether it was cattle or sheep that had passed, but the direction in which they had gone. James immediately followed in pursuit. Sometimes the drover had gained a considerable distance, and was chuckling how he had circumvented the old officer, but his conclusions generally proved premature. The unerring detective was on his track, and, though he had to trudge weary miles, he would not give up the chase till he had overtaken his man, and recovered his custom. The service of the burgh, and the protection of its interests, were with him a perfect passion ; and he has been known, when his quick ear caught the sound of a passing cart, to spring out of bed, and, not waiting to dress, lest in the interval his victim should escape, rush out to the street, and speed along in pursuit, presenting much the appearance of a disembodied spirit. And all this for what? A beggarly pittance of 9s per week. A minute of 26th April, 1853, runs thus—“The Council agree to allow James Black, Town Officer, on account of the heavy work he is doing on the street at present, a wage at the rate of 9s per week during the current year, in full of his whole services to the Burgh.” The heavy work on the street refers to the paving that he did, for James was a handy man, and never idle. His wage was subsequently increased to 12s, and then to 14s per week, an increase which was well earned, for the revenue from the customs had notably improved from the time when he took them in hand. At length, the time came when heavy work was beyond his power, but what he could do was still done with all his old spirit and fidelity. In 1872, in a 'Council, the majority of the members of which seem to have been dead to all generous feeling, an agitation was raised to cut down their old servant’s wages. He was at the time labouring under a temporary illness when he learned what was proposed to be done. The wage was reduced to 10s, and the act would seem to have broken the old officer’s spirit. He died three months after, at the age of 72.

Celebrations

The inhabitants of small burghs in the olden time, not forgetful of the great advantages they enjoyed by the grace of the Sovereign, were intensely loyal, and the annual celebration of the King’s Birthday was for long one of the principal events of the year. The Town Council naturally took the lead in the festivities that were indulged in. The first formal minute on the subject is-dated 1728, and runs thus:—“The Provost Baillies and Council considering that this is his Majesty King George the Second his Birthday have therefore resolved at twelve of the clock the said day to repair to the Tolbooth, and to go from thence to the Cross, And there drink his Majesty King George the Second his Health and all other Loyal Healths, and ordaine the Bells of the Town to be rung, Drumbs to beat, and other Instruments of Musick to play upon that occasion, And the Train bands of the Town to be drawn up and fire as usuall.”

The following note appears in the Dumfries Magazine in the year 1826:—“On Thursday last, about mid-day, the common-bellmau of Sanquhar made a notification in the following words :—‘I’m requeested to intimate that the ban’ o’ moosic will meet at the pump well the night at seven o’clock, to play ‘ God Save the King.’ and they’ll be glad o’ the company o’ ony body ’at likes to come and hear them, an’ to tak’ a glass wi’ them afterwards, in a quate, discreet kin’ o’ way, when a’ his Majesty’s loyal subjects are gaun to toss the King’s health for the favour he has dune to the leeges o’ Sanquhar in opening the ports at this prezeese time.’ In consequence, it is related, of the above call upon their loyalty, a number of the leeges assembled, and listened to the performance of the King’s anthem, and then adjourned from the pump-well to the Court House, where they pledged his Majesty’s health, long life, and prosperity in brimming bumpers, but from the more potent liquor drawn from John Barleycorn.”

The naivete of these proclamations is charming, and they give us a delightful peep at one of the great merrymakings of former days in Sanquhar. The reference in the latter to the immediate cause of the citizens’ abounding gratitude, that his Majesty “had opened the ports at this prezeese time,” relates to the oppressive Corn Laws, the baleful effects of which upon the condition of the lower classes especially we have elsewhere pointed out, and reminds us of the fact that this year 1826 was, and is still, called “the dry year.” No rain fell for several months; in some cases the corn never was blessed with a shower from sowing to reaping, and was harvested in the beginning of August, an unprecedentedly early date for this high locality. It was so short that most of it had to be pulled by the liand; instead of being reaped by the sickle in the usual way. The result was, that a good deal of soil adhered to the roots in the process of pulling, which the utmost care in fanning failed to separate altogether from the grain, and the meal made from it was so mixed with sand as to be very trying to the teeth. The measure adopted by the King was a bold but wise and necessary stroke of policy. It was a suspension, on his own personal authority, of the protective laws. We have seen how, time after time, through the failure of the harvest, and the maintenance of these laws in all their rigour and severity, the people had been brought to the very verge of famine. This was one of those supreme crises which occur in the history of a nation, when everything must be subordinated to the first duty of every Government—the protection of the lives of its citizens; and the King was, therefore, justified in a course which, though technically illegal, was necessary to the saving of his people. This celebration of the King’s birthday was one of the great celebrations of the year, in which the whole population, young and old, joined with the greatest enthusiasm. The forms which such celebrations assumed were not so varied in those days, and consisted chiefly of processions, drinking, and.the burning of tar-barrels. The Town Council set the fashion, as we have seen, by marching in a body from the Town Hall to the “pump-well,” where the King’s health was drunk with all the honours. They were joined by the large body of the populace, whose attendance was doubtless augmented by the presence, as often was the case, of a halfhogshead, then termed an eighteen-dozen cask, of ale, from which they were allowed to draw ad libitum. The “ban’ o’ moosic” played the National Authem, and other stirring airs; and, the ball thus set rolling, the merry-making was carried on during the evening with great vigour. Some of the younger spirits generally contrived to procure a tar-barrel, which they placed on a cart, and dragged through the streets with ropes, cheering and yelling the while. This rough torchlight procession was rather a dangerous amusement in the times when the whole houses, with rare exceptions, were thatched with straw, but we have not heard that any untoward mishap ever occurred. The tar-barrels were procured from the farmers in the neighbourhood, who used large quantities of tar in the now obsolete process of smearing their sheep.

The Trades Election was another great day of the year. It occurred about the same time as the election of the Council. Here the observances were of much the same description. The Trades met about mid-day, in the vicinity of the Town Hall, formed into procession, and, headed by the instrumental band, paraded down the street and back, and then passed on usually to Crawick, where, at a certain period, they were always hospitably entertained by Mr Rigg, the principal partner of the Forge Company there, and where the greater part of the afternoon was spent in out-door sports. Returning to the town, they broke up into divisions by trades — Squaremen (masons and joiners), Blacksmiths, Weavers, Shoemakers, and Tailors—each trade proceeding together to a particular public-house. There was plenty of choice, when there were from fifteen to twenty licensed houses, and these all got a turn, in succession, of the patronage of the tradesmen. Business meetings were held by each, the chief item of which was—the election of the deacon of the trade; after which the members dined together, and spent the night in right jolly fashion. Drink was cheap, teetotalism was seldom professed, and the name of Forbes Mackenzie had not yet been heard in the land. Through the greater part of the night, the revel proceeded, and, in the grey dawn of the next morning, the last survivors might full oft be seen staggering home. While their elders were thus engaged upstairs, the ’prentices were not forgotten. They received their dinner, free, at a second table downstairs, and a certain allowance of drink was sent down in order that they might qualify themselves for taking their place some day in the upper circle. The provision made was always very abundant, each keeper of a house being anxious to earn a good reputation among the tradesmen for the quality of his entertainment, and so it was a common custom for some to turn in next day, when they received a substantial dinner off the fragments on very easy terms. Was it hunger or drouth, after all, that took them back?

Another red-letter day was the annual Riding of the Marches. At a time when a large part of the land was absolutely unfenced, and the boundaries of properties were only marked in the rudest manner, this was a most necessary proceeding. It served to preserve in the minds of the inhabitants a clear recollection of what those boundaries were. In a minute of the year 1730, we have the first reference to this practice, which shews that even then it was not new. In the minute the Provost, Baillies, and Council “appoint and ordain that all and each man Burges and Inhabitant within the Burgh of Sanquhar liaveing a Horse of his own do wait upon the Magistrates and Council the said day by eleven of the clock in the forenoon to ride the Marches of the Burgh, as formerly, each man under the penalty of ten merks Scots money.” The lead in this observance was naturally taken by the Town Council, the guardians of the rights of the public, but they were by no means without countenance on the occasion, for they carried a “jar” with them. Proceeding down the street, they left the main road when the Tovvnfoot burn had been reached, and, following the track of the burn, they ascended the face of the brae. Wending to the right, they passed the herd’s house and reached the summit, where the first halt was called, and the first “dram” partaken of. Resuming their journey, they swept round the moor, caught on to the head of the Conrick Burn, and so, they pursued their devious course towards Crawick Mill, where the ceremony practically ended. This was by no means a complete circuit of the marches, but it covered the parts where the boundary was least plainly defined. In the last years of its observance, the crowd was headed by one Captain Scott, a retired army officer, who resided in the town, and took an interest in its welfare. The gallant captain donned his old military uniform for the occasion. A horse for his use was kindly lent by some one, and, mounted on this horse, his scarlet coat gave quite a character to the procession. The captain was popular, and his presence, imposing as it would appear to the imagination of the youngsters, did more than anything else to ensure the continuance of this ancient custom, long after its practical utility had ceased. The last occasion on which it was observed was over sixty years ago. An attempt was made in 1853 to revive it. A petition was presented to the Town Council asking them to arrange for the observance of the custom, which for many years had been neglected. The Council were not influenced by any consideration of archaic interest connected with it, but regarded it from a merely utilitarian point of view. They “saw no good purpose to be served by such a proceeding, recommend the petitioners to depart from the proposal, but if they resolve to carry it out, the Council leave them to act entirely on their own responsibility in the matter.” Thus passed away another of the picturesque features of the social life of the old burgh.

In a municipal sense, the election of the Town Council was the event of the whole year. So long as the old council had the right to elect the new, the dramatis personal consisted only of the members : the general body of the inhabitants only played the part of interested spectators. Notwithstanding, it aroused a high degree of interest, and was the subject of many secret cabals and dexterous wirepulling. A seat at the Council was then the only position of power and influence in the burgh. All who sat there were, therefore, persons of consideration, and the provostship was the highest and most dignified post to which auy one could hope to aspire. He was brought into contact with territorial magnates, and, especially about the time of a parliamentary election, was privileged to rub shoulders with the highest aud best in the county, and, as we have seen, if he was not hampered with scruples of conscience, could, if he played his cards well, manage to make his position not only agreeable but profitable. In the annual election, therefore, it was that all the strivings of parties and cliques culminated, but the banquet which followed served to soothe the asperities of party warfare. But, in truth, these same municipal feasts were of not infrequent occurrence—it being a common saying yet in the town that, during the period when the burgh was reaping a large revenue out of the coal-works on the moor, if a pound of nails were wanted for the works it cost five pounds before they could be ordered ; for the meetings of Council were usually held in public-houses, when eating and drinking formed the principal part of the business. This is probably an exaggeration, but, that the practice prevailed to a certain extent, there can be little doubt, and that will explain, what otherwise appears inexplicable, why, at a time when the Council must have had much important business to transact, the minutes are so meagre. ,At such meetings they would, in all likelihood, dispense with the ceremony of writing minutes.

These were the great standing celebrations of the year. Others connected with particular events we shall take up in their chronological order.

Thus far, the different parts of the municipal history of the town have been treated by bringing together the materials connected with particular heads, but there remain various matters and incidents, referred to in the Council Minutes, which are incapable of being thus grouped, and we shall have to take these in the order of time of their occurrence, giving, in most cases, the minute, and adding whatever remarks or explanations may appear to be necessary to place them fully before the reader.

20th July, 1730.—“The said day the Provost, Baillies, and Council have gold to Robert Fisher, Dyster in Sanquhar, that piece of ground called * Sarah’s Frock,’ belonging in common to the Burgh, lying upon the water of Crack from the foot of the brae to the said water, and that for building a Waulk Miln with a House Steed and Milldams thereto, with free passage to and from the same, and that for payment of six shillings eight pennies of yearly Feu-duty.”

28th 3fay, 1743.—“The said day the Provost produces an Act of the Justices of the Peace of the Shire of Dumfries anent the spinning of Woolen Yarn, which is read in Council, and the same is appointed to be intimat at the Mercat Cross upon the next Mercat Day in time of Publick Mercat, and also to be intimat at the Paroch Kirk door of Sanquhar the- first Day there shall be Sermon, &c.”

4th June, 1789.—“The Magistrates and Council being mett for the purpose of laying a plan for making the street into a Regular line were unanimously of opinion that when any part of the said street was to be rebuilt that the same should run from the North Corner of the New Inn to the East Corner of Mr Barker’s house in a straight line, and the Houses behind said Line to be brought forward, and those that are too near the street of said Line to be taken back.”

29th September, 1800.—Previous to the election of the New Council, “a Protest was given in by Robert Whigham, Esq. of Hallidayhill, a member of the Town Council of the Royal Borough of Sanquhar, and present Dean of Guild of said Borough, Bearing that he did then at the Election of Magistrates and Council for said Borough of Sanquhar, for the year ensuing which was about to talte place Protest that in case the persons following . . . all Indwellers in Sanquhar and present Members of the Council of the said burgh or any one of them should attempt to take it upon them to vote at the present election of Magistrates and Council, their votes should not lie received and ought not to be admitted, in regard they were acting under a Corrupt and undue influence, and had lately entered into an illegal obligation and Combination subversive of the Constitution and freedom of the Election .... and that they and each of them should be liable to him Jointly and Severally in all Damages, Cost, Skaith, or Expenses he might sustain or incur thereby.”

“The said day James Hamilton, a Member of the Town Council, and one of the persons against whom the above Protest of Mr Robert Whigham was taken, Averred that the same was false, and that 110 undue Influence was used against him or any of his Brethren.”

Mr Whigham then nominated seventeen persons for election, and a vote having been called, six persons voted for those nominated by him, whereupon he claimed that “ having been approved by a majority of the legal votes they are the Persons who are now to be considered as the only legal and lawful Counsellors of this Burgh for the ensuing year ; Therefore he takes Instruments in the hands of the Clerk.”

“The said James Hamilton Protested in like manner against the said Robert Whigham, for the gross impropriety of clogging the Minutes with so much idle stuff, seeing his List of Council was rejected by a great majority, and took Instruments and craved Extracts.”

What a fearful upheaval have we here, evidently the climax of a struggle between Whigham and Otto for supremacy. A typical example of the rivalries that spring up in the municipal bodies of small burghs. For weeks secret cabals have been held, wire-pulling has been diligently carried on, and every possible shift and expedient resorted to by each of the rivals, to capture the wavering Councillors and vanquish his adversary. And now the fateful day has arrived. Whigham, knowing that his opponent has outwitted him, flings down his protest on the table. It acts like a bombshell. The Councillors spring to their feet; the angry rivals stand confronting each other, surrounded each by his supporters; while the witnesses brought in for the occasion skulk timidly behind their principals. Hamilton, for himself and his colleagues, gives voice to the indignation frith which they repel the offensive allegation made against them, winding up with a sentence, brief, pointed, and pithy, in which he pours contempt upon Whigham’s protest, characterising it as “ idle stuff.” The latter, baffled and defeated, has to withdraw with what dignity he can muster in his humiliating position. It is to be regretted that one who had occupied the civic chair for the long period of sixteen years should have had to make his final exit in this fashion.

In the very beginning of the present century, the streets of the town were lighted with lamps, for, in 1802, the Council, recognising “the great benefit the Inhabitants of the town and other places receive from Lamps being regularly lighted and kept burning on the streets,” agree that the expense of the same shall be defrayed from the town’s funds, and offer a reward for the discovery of those persons who are guilty of the “ wicked practice ” of breaking said lamps. In 1840 the hours fixed for lighting the street lamps, when there was not moonlight, were—“Until eleven o’clock, except on Sunday nights and Saturday nights—the former till ten o’clock, the latter till twelve o’clock.” Of course, the}7 were lighted with oil till the introduction of gas in the year 1840.

3rd October, 1812.— Per some reason not stated, the Town Clerk, William Smith, had been deprived of his burgess ticket, and, not being qualified to conduct the election of Council, as a matter of form he had to resign his Clerkship, and William Gordon, jun., writer in Dumfries, was appointed in his room. The same day Smith was re-admitted Burgess, and two days after, at the close of the annual election, he was restored to his office. Gordon was, therefore, Town Clerk for two days only.

27th May, 1833.—The Magistrates, now elected by the voice of the electors, and imbued with the reforming spirit of the age, or observing the drift of public opinion, “unanimously resolve for the future to throw the privileges of the Burgh open, to the extent of not exacting from any individual coming into the Burgh and keeping a shop or carrying on any sort of trade or business whatever, any of the fees or charges hitherto in the use of being levied from persons commencing business .... but such person shall not be entitled to procure a formal admission as Burgess from the Magistrates without payment of the usual expense and upon the usual terms. The Council also recommend to the Trades of the Burgh to throw open their respective [crafts] to all and sundry without exception, and voluntarily to abandon their seals of cause for all time coming.” The Magistrates may have resolved to make a virtue of necessity, but at any rate their action, as persons professing Liberal principles, was consistent, and, on this ground, contrasts favourably with the action of their successors of a later time, who clung to their rights in regard to custom, till these were taken from them by the Legislature. Prompted by the old Conservative spirit, a motion was made in 1835 to revive the ancient restrictions on trading iu the town, limiting the freedom to such as were Burgesses, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

We now reach a period of disturbance and litigation, which kept the Council and the town itself in a somewhat lively condition, and for which two individuals, William Broom and Thomas Rae, were largely responsible. Mr Broom was elected the first provost under the reformed franchise. The list of votes given at the election were, until the Ballot Act was passed, recorded in the Minute Book, and, by a careful study of these lists, one can distinguish the little parties into which the Council and the constituency were, from the first, divided. In the year 1835, Provost Broom’s list of candidates were all defeated by a sweeping majority. The Provost seems to have taken his defeat with a bad grace, and he resolved to play the dog in the manger, regardless of his statutory duty as Chief Magistrate, and his oath defideli as a Councillor. At the first meeting of the Council for the purpose of swearing-in the new Councillors, the Provost is noted in the minute as “ being absent without any excuse.” The three Bailies, who had beeu of the Provost’s party, and had been defeated at the election two days before, declined to attend the meeting or preside at the election of magistrates. In this they were right, and the Provost, taking advantage of the fact that he was at the moment the only magistrate in the burgh, probably designed, by absenting himself, to put the Council in a fix ; but they were under the guidance of a wary clerk, Mr J. W. Macqueen, and the business proceeded without the Provost. It would appear that he thereupon, iu a characteristic manner (for he was a good deal given to bluster), threatened to overturn the whole proceedings. The opinion of counsel was taken, and was in favour of the validity of the late election under the peculiar circumstances under which it took place.”

This seems to have settled the Provost for the time. He fell into the sulks, and never more during his tenure of office did he attend a single meeting of Council, except at the annual roup of the game on the moor, in which he was personally interested, and at the end, as presiding officer, when he was standing as a candidate for re-election. He, with his other nominees, was signally defeated, with the exception of one William Brown (“ Singy ” Brown, as he was nicknamed, being a singing - master), but so completely had the Provost his party under control that “Singy” declined office when he saw that his chief was defeated. In this undignified and humiliating manner did Provost Broom’s connection with the Town Council cease—for a time. It was only for a time, for we find that, though he stood next year as a candidate and received only one vote, in the year following, 1838, the vicissitudes of party warfare which, in small country towns, are frequently as bewildering as the transformation scene of a pantomime, received forcible illustration in Broom’s election, first as a councillor, and subsequently as Provost. A fresh denoument occurs during this second term of Mr Broom’s Provostship, for in 1840 it is recorded that on the election of John Donaldson as Burgh and Council Officer, the Provost, who opposed his appointment, instantly intimated “that in consequence of this vote as to the officer, he, the Provost, now hereby resigned, and does resign the office of Provost from the 'present moment.” This incident exhibits Broom as of an impetuous, wilful disposition. He must have everything his own way, and when he is thwarted acts in a rash and precipitate manner. This is his last appearance at the Council board, but he continues to act as a thorn in the side of the Council for years after, in connection with business relations he had with them as an owner of part of the divided land on the muir and tacksman of coal. A year after, he applies for their permission to cut a Level up the Cow Wynd from the street to drain his coal workings. The Council accede to Mr Broom’s application "it being expressly provided and stipulated that the Council shall ever afterwards enjoy the privilege of the use of the proposed new Level, free of any consideration or compensation being claimable for such privilege.” It was further stipulated that Broom should do nothing to disturb the previously existing level, which afforded a valuable supply of good water for the service of the inhabitants. Notwithstanding all these stipulations, the result was that the old level was tapped, and the supply of water ceased This led to an angry controversy, but the Council, unable to make anything of Broom, had occasion to repent of the liberty they had granted him. Then, again, in a dispute with him in 1842, with regard to the portion of the town’s lauds held by him, which it was agreed to refer to arbitration. Broom named a Thomas Craig, his own sub-tenant, as his representative, a person who had a direct interest in the matter. The Council, impressed with the barefaced nature of Broom’s proposal, agree to meet him on his ground, and “ in the event of Mr Broom persisting in Mr Thomas Craig, his Tenant, being named Referee on his part, that the Council name Mr Thomas Rae, one of their tenants, as Referee on their part.” Those who knew the men, and the relation of cordial hatred that subsisted between Broom and Rae, will appreciate the humour of the Council’s proposal and the effectiveness of it as a counter move. That it was only meant as that is shewn from the fact that the minute goes on to say that “if Mr Broom will name a neutral person of intelligence and respectability on his part, the Council in that case appoint Mr James Dalziel, in Auchengruith, as their Referee.” Rae was, as we have said, on bad terms with Broom. Between the two there was a great similarity of disposition. Both were almost incessantly engaged in petty litigations, and Rae ultimately ruined himself in this way. The Mr Dalziel whom the Council really wished to represent them was a person of a very different stamp, being a gentleman of great natural shrewdness, extensive knowledge, and experience, and, above all, of unimpeachable integrity. So great was the public confidence in his capacity and his unbending impartiality that very frequently he was called in singly to arbitrate between disputants.

Mr Broom’s name again crops up in 1850, when he attempted to close the road across the muir, from the main-road towards Conrick, by building a dyke across each end of it. The Council “ resolve that the dykes referred to at said road shall be thrown down and removed,” which was done by the officer. Broom raised an action of Interdict, but subsequently withdrew it. At the same time he proceeded to quarry stones in his lands without the Council’s permission, and this in the face of a decision obtained some years previously.

The Free Church congregation at Sanquhar had their own share of the annoyance and persecution to which the Church was subjected in many quarters. The attitude taken up by the Duke of Buccleuch towards the Church elsewhere rendered it plain that they need not expect any facilities from him. The difficulty of procuring stones for the erection of their Church was solved by the Town Council coming forward and offering them the liberty to quarry stones from the muir-lands. The place chosen was on Raefield, owned by the Thomas Rae already referred to. The fence was taken down, a road constructed, and considerable progress made in the work of quarrying, when Rae came down upon the Church authorities with an interdict. This raised the question whether those persons who had participated in the division of the muir lands were in the position of absolute owners, or had their rights confined to the surface, the minerals remaining with the town as superior. The Council resolved to defend the case in the name of the contractor, who had been served with the interdict. The Sheriff decided in favour of the Council, but Rae appealed to the Court of Session, and while the case was still in dependence “ it was ascertained by the Council that Thomas Rae has proceeded and caused the quarry at the muir to be filled up and levelled, and that the same thing has been done with the road into it, and that the dyke across the road has been re-built and the hedge re-planted, and that he has buried almost all the large quantity of stones which Mr Hair had quarried and put out in so filling up the said quarry.” This incident shews what a resolute, fearless character Rae was. The majesty of the law even could not overawe him. The final decision was given against him, and another controversy which caused much bitterness in the whole district was closed.

14th October, 1836.—The Council resolved to present the freedom of the burgh to the youthful Duke of Buccleucb. On the 28th inst. he was admitted, and a Burgess Ticket, written on a stamp of £1 (his Grace’s father having been a Burgess), was extended accordingly. The Council purposed presenting the Burgess Ticket to His Grace at the Holm, before he left the country, but that arrangement was not found convenient to the Duke, and a deputation consisting of two bailies and the clerk proceeded to the Castle with that object. On their return, they reported that “ His Grace had been pleased to receive the Ticket in a very kind and affable and condescending manner; that the deputation had been treated with every mark of attention and respect; and that the Duke had expressed his satisfaction and gratification at receiving such a token of respect from the Sanquhar Town Council.”

6th June, 1854.—The Provost laid on the table the invitation he had received to attend the opening of the Crystal Palace, London, by the Queen, on the 10th inst., and “the Council grant the sum of five guineas to the Provost to assist in defraying his travelling and other expenses.”

Honoury Brgesses

The practice, now so common in the larger towns, of presenting the freedom of the burgh to men of distinction as a mark of honour and respect, had been practised by the Town Council of Sanquhar from the earliest times down to the year 1813. From that date, however, there is no instance of the freedom being conferred till 1854, when a descendant of the ancient Crichtons, the lords of the Castle, was a recipient of this honour. The Provost called a meeting of the Council “in consequence of hearing that to-morrow Lord Patrick James Herbert Crichton Stuart is to visit Sanquhar for the purpose of seeing this Locality, where his ancestors in ancient times resided, owned extensive possessions, and held influential sway, and under whose fostering auspices this Burgh was originally created a Burgh, and obtained all its rights, privileges, and immunities.” The Council unanimously resolved to present “Lord James Stuart with an Honorary Burgess Ticket, as the only mark of respect which it is in their power, in their corporate capacity, to bestow.’’ This is the last entry on the roll of Hon. Burgesses, which will be found in the Appendix.

A reference to the paragraph on the town lands will shew that it was about this time that these were laid out in a farm, fenced, drained, and a steading built. In these important works, the Council were guided and advised by Messrs Dalziel, Auchengruith, and Kennedy, Brandleys, in agricultural matters, and by Mr Archibald Brown in regard to all buildings. These gentlemen, having declined to accept any remuneration, were entertained to dinner by the Council on 22nd March, 1858, “ in acknowledgment for their very useful services.”

In addition to the settlement of their land, the Town Council at this period promoted other works of public utility In 1857, they resolved to procure a new bell for the Town Hall, the Town’s funds to provide one-half of the sum necessary, the remainder to be raised by subscription. At next meeting a subscription of £25 from the Duke of Buccleuch towards this object was intimated, and the Council acknowledge their grateful sense of the Duke’s liberality in a matter in which they take a lively interest. The Council had previously in the same year erected a new clock in the Town Hall at a cost of £50, the face of the old clock being nailed up on the end of the Town Hall to be used as an advertising board ; and likewise built a new stair with iron railing, while they had the interior thoroughly repaired and painted at a cost of £70. They had also obtained a satisfactory settlement of the Custom question with the Railway Company. This energetic and enterprising Council was composed of the following members: — Provost John Williamson; Bailies Samuel Whigham and William Kerr; Dean of Guild Walter Scott; Treasurer Geo. Osborne; Councillors Archd. Brown, Thomas Shaw, Alexander Simpson, and Robert Stoddart.

In 1858, the last attempt to work coal in the vicinity of the town was made by Mr George Clennell above the railway, close to Matthew’s Folly road, but without success. The attempt was speedily abandoned. It was in connection with a claim by the Council against Clennell for coal abstracted from underneath the road, which they claimed, that the ominous discovery was first made that- the Charter was lost. This announcement was made at a meeting held in February, 1860, and created the utmost consternation, not only in the Council, but outside. The Town Clerk, Mr J. W. Macqueen, stated that the Charter had never been in his possession, and produced a list of documents which he had received from his predecessor, Mr Smith, in which it did not appear, but several copies of translation were in his possession. This was a vital matter, and the Council instituted a search in every quarter where there was the faintest hope of its recovery, but in vain. The wildest conjectures were indulged in by the townspeople as to how the precious document had been spirited away, but these did not assist in any way to its finding. At length, after fruitless inquiries, the hope of its recovery was abandoned, and an action was raised in the Court of Session, in 1862, to prove its tenor, with the view of obtaining a new Charter. The case for the Council was as follows :—

I. A manuscript volume exhibited by Samuel Halkett, Keeper of the Advocates’ Library, entitled “Juridical and Historical Collections,” contained a writing intituled “Copie of the Charter of Erection of the Toune of Sanquhar in a Brugh Royall, dated in 1598.”

II. Deposition of David Laing, Librarian to the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet, to the following effect—I am well acquainted with the handwriting of Lord Fountaiu-hall, who was one of the Senators of the College of Justice from 1689 till about the time of his death in 1722.    I know his handwriting from having edited three printed volumes of historical notices, selected from his manuscripts. This was done for the Banuatyne Club. Being shewn the manuscript volume exhibited by the preceding witness, Mr Halkett, and the before-mentioned writing therein contained, depones—The title of this writing and the marginal note at the commencement thereof are both in Lord Fountainhall's hand-writing. The following docquet at the close of the Charter is likewise, I am satisfied, in Lord Fountainhall’s hand-writing:—“I have likewise seen the proecept furth of the Chancery of the same date wt- this Charter, for infefting the said toune of Sanquhar, item, their seasine following thirupon. The license granted by my Lord Sanquhar, mentioned in this Charter, is only this:—I, Robert, Lord Creighton of Sanquhar, wills and consents that the brugh of Sanquhar (which was of before ane brugh of barony), be erected now in a free Brugh regall, with all immunities and privileges His Maty, shall think fit to give thirto. In witness whereof, written, &c. Other licenses bear a reserva’on to the former baron of his fevv-duties and casualties, but this contains no such clause, vide pag. seq.”    ,

III. W. 0. Macqueen, tuwn-clerk of Sanquhar, gave evidence that the Charter of erection of the burgh of Sauquhar as a royal burgh, the relative precept for infeft-ment, and the instrument of sasine, had gone amissing, and that it was a tradition in the town-clerk’s office that these writings had for some particular purpose, unknown, been sent out of the custody of the town-clerlc. The time when this was believed to have occurred was in the latter part of the eighteenth century, during the clerkship of John Crichton, who held office from 1789 to 1807. This opinion is founded on the fact that, in an inventory drawn up by the said John Crichton, while he was town clerk, of the principal papers, books, and others kept as records for the burgh of Sanquhar, there is an entry of the original Charter as in his possession at the time, but there is no mention of the said Charter in the inventory of papers delivered by him in 1808 to.his successor in office, Joseph Gillou.

Not only did Mr M'Queen testify that the whole archives of the burgh had been diligently searched, but that the whole papers of the said John Crichton, and also of James Crichton, his predecessor in office, which were then in the possession of Mrs Otto, Newark, near Sanquhar, had likewise been examined without a trace of the missing documents being found. Further, a search of the papers at Eliock House had been made in 1827, by Sheriff Veitch of Lanarkshire, for the benefit of a friend engaged in writing a history of Dumfriesshire, but no trace had been found of the said charter or precept. The tenor of the original charter having in this way fortunately been preserved by the diligence of Lord Fountainhall, the Council were successful in obtaining a Charter of Novodamus on the same lines at the hands of the Supreme Court, and were thus relieved from the position of embarrassment in which they found themselves when the loss of the original charter was made known. The process of proving cost £328 5s 3d.

This was an anxious time for the town, for a serious claim was made in I860 by the Duke of Buccleuch as Titular for arrears of stipend and interest due by the Town on their lands. How this had been allowed to fall into arrears is not stated, but similar claims were made upon all the small heritors, and the sum being in each case pretty considerable, a feeling of soreness was created in the minds of those who had this claim unexpectedly sprung upon them. The Town Council gave instructions to negotiate, on the basis of the .claim not reaching further back than .the division of the Muir in 1830, and of the interest being at the rate of three per cent, per annum. The Duke lodged a claim for £225 15s 7d. At the same time, a counter claim was made by the Council against the Duke for arrears of feu-rents for lands held by His Grace from the town. After laboured negotiations, and a proposal to settle the respective claims by arbitration having fallen through owing to a failure to agree as to the terms of the submission, directions were given in 1863 to the Town’s agent “ to proceed with their action against the Duke of Buccleuch, leaving it to His Grace to constitute his counter claims as he may be advised.” The Court of Session granted decree in favour of the town, finding it entitled to receive from the Duke one thousand, one hundred and fifty-six pounds, one shilling and eightpence sterling, being amount of rents and interest due to them.

Agents’ expenses amounted to £159. On the other hand, the Duke was successful in his plea against the town for stipend, the sum to which he was found entitled being £110 5s 11d. The expenses incurred were £338 14s 2d.

The business of the town was now in a greatly improved condition. Their property was all in good order. The Council had procured a new Charter, the heavy litigation, which had caused them many an anxious thought for years, was now happily brought to a close, and they could therefore breathe more freely.

7th October, 1868.—The Council passed a minute expressing their abhorrence of the assassination of President Lincoln, and their sympathy with the American people and Mrs Lincoln. They received, in return, from the United States Legation in London, a copy of the appendix to the diplomatic correspondence of the United States of I860, as a testimonial of the grateful appreciation of that country.

November, 1868.—The introduction of a regular system of sewerage gave rise to a preliminary controversy of a very bitter kind. The subject is not a savoury one, and we will therefore not dwell upon it. The opposition was directed, not against the policy, but against the method of proceeding, in which the promoters of the scheme were not altogether prudent. At the next occurring election this was made a test question, the result being that the Common-sewer party, as it was called, were defeated, and the proposal received for a time its quietus. It was renewed some years later, under happier auspices, and Mr Gilchrist-Clark, for the Duke of Buccleuch, agreed most generously to co-operate in this desirable reform. He offered to construct the drain from the South U.P. Church, whence His Grace’s property occupies one side of the street, to the townfoot, and thence to the river Nith, a system of filters, near the old castle, being also constructed at His Grace’s expense. This offer so much reduced the cost of the undertaking as to make it practicable for the Council to pay their part out of the common good of the burgh. In this way it was carried through at last with general consent.

2nd September, 1872.—We have seen what a largo revenue was enjoyed by the Council in the early years of the present century from their lordship on coal, and ever since that time many of the inhabitants had cherished dreams of fabulous wealth still lying beneath the surface of their lands, forgetful of the fact that, in its later stages when it was being worked, the coal had proved altogether unremunerative, and had been ultimately abandoned owing to the “troubles” which were encountered in the workings, and entailed no end of loss and disappointment. The belief in profitable mining being still possible was given voice to in the Council in this year, and it was resolved to take the opinion of an expert on the subject. That opinion was favourable, and the field was advertised. Two offers were received. It was ultimately agreed that trial bores be put down by one of the offerers at the mutual expense of himself and the Council. The boring failed to find a workable coal, and operations ceased. The amount spent in this venture was about £100. A proposal was made to continue the work, and the sense of the inhabitants was taken by a plebiscite, when out of 150 papers sent in only 34 voted for further boring. The journal of the bore was subsequently submitted to a skilled engineer in Edinburgh for his opinion. He advised the discontinuance of further search, whereupon the project was abandoned.

March, 1879.—Another unfortunate enterprise was that of attempting to convert the Green Loch into a meadow. The authors were very sanguine. So confident were they of success that they were content to propose the treatment of only about an acre at first. This proved the proverbial thin end of the wedge. Gradually the scheme developed till the whole area was included. And all this in face of the unanimous opinion of several of the most prominent farmers in the district that the nature of the ground was such as to make its conversion into a meadow hopeless. The keen controversy that had arisen over this scheme was now embittered by the refusal of the dominant party in the Council to allow the curlers to dam the loch during the winter months, on the plea that to flood the ground would jeopardise the working of the drains, and, therefore, the success of the whole experiment. The curlers pleaded in vain that they had received guarantees from the Council that nothing would be done to limit their privileges. The ground upon which so much had been spent shewed no signs of becoming much more productive than it had previously been, and what between the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants over so much money wasted and the indignation of the curlers over the loss of their ancient privileges, the Council had a hot time of it. With the view of pacifying the latter, various schemes were proposed for providing them with a substitute for the Green Loch, but they kept clamouring for their old loch, and prophesied failure to each successive proposal of the Council. The opinion of five farmers of the neighbourhood was asked by the Council as to whether the flooding of the loch by the curlers would injure the improvements. Their answer was that it would not, with the exception of the lime that had been laid 011 the ground. Determined not to yield, but conscious that the curlers had claims upon them which they could not ignore, the Council set to construct an embankment and sluice so as to enlarge the Black Loch, and spent a considerable sum in so doing. The attempt proved a failure, the area of that loch being only slightly enlarged for the time, and ultimately, in spite of the engineering works, it shrunk to its former size. With the annual election of Councillors came the day of reckoning. The indictment included the boring for the coal as well as these agricultural experiments. Lively election meetings were held beforehand, and the election was keen and bitter. The old party was turned out. Some did not care to face the ordeal of election, and retired, and the bolder spirits who went to the poll were decisively defeated. Another stormy period of municipal history thus terminated.

Still another question which caused some, excitement and bad feeling during this period was the powers of the Dean of Guild, which arose in connection with the unroofing of a small house at the Corseburn, which stood out on the line of street beyond those on either side of it. The Dean considered that he was entitled to prevent the proprietor from improving the house, and increasing its stability ; in fact, that the roof having been taken off, the house should be taken back to the general line. He brought the matter before the Council for advice and direction, but they left it to him to act on his own discretion. Interdict was applied for, bat the Sheriff’s decision was against the Dean. The respondent then raised a claim for damages.

4th April, 1881.—A movement was now on foot for the erection of a new Public Hall by means of a Limited Liability Company, and a letter was sent by the Chairman of the Company asking the co-operation of the Town Council in the attainment of this desirable object. For some unaccountable reason a large section of the Council looked askance at the movement, and strangely enough when the sense of the inhabitants was taken the majority approved of their attitude. The Council, thereupon, declined to have anything to do with it, the excuse being that the finances of the town had been brought into such a state that they were not in a position to subscribe. The resolution of the Council, whether prompted by duty or inclination, need not, however, have affected the support by the community individually of an object for which there had been a recognised necessity for many years. In truth, no public meeting or entertainment of any importance could now be held in the town owing to the withdrawal by the educational authorities of the use for such purposes of the schools. It was in these circumstances that the movement by gentlemen in the neighbourhood, aided by a few of the more enlightened of the townspeople, for the erection of a hall commensurate with the needs of the population and an architectural adornment to the town was received not only with apathetic indifference, but with a-thinly-veiled hostility, and only a very few subscriptions were obtained in the burgh. Happily the promoters were not discouraged by this antagonism. It was resolved to proceed by the formation of a Limited Liability Company, with shares of £1 each. The matter was pushed with considerable energy, and at length nearly 1100 shares were subscribed. A most eligible site at the junction of the two roads behind the old Town Hall was obtained from the Duke of Buccleuch at a nominal rent, whereon a handsome hall, with ante-rooms and keeper’s house attached, was erected, The building has an elegant ornamental front looking clown the street, and measures 80 by 40 feet. The ground is enclosed by a parapet wall and iron railing. The Hall was opened on 16th January, 1882, with a grand concert given by the Dumfries Philharmonic Society, conducted by Sheriff Hope. When all had been completed, it was found that about £500 would be required to clear the building of debt, and it was resolved to endeavour to raise this sum by a bazaar, which was held on the 22nd and 23rd October, 1885, and proved successful beyond all expectation. Contributions poured in from all quarters, and, when the opening took place by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, the stalls were found to be loaded with materials of great richness and beauty. It was feared that these would never be disposed of, but a different spirit now animated the whole community. They had realised the great advantages the town would derive from this institution, and they made ample amends for their former apathy by co-operating in the most hearty manner to secure its success. The Hall was well filled both days, and on the evening of the last day of the bazaar it was literally packed with an eager crowd, by whom the stalls were effectually cleared. The drawings amounted to over £1130. The debt was discharged, various improvements on the original design were carried out, and the balance of £300 was invested. By a provision of the original prospectus of the Company, funds received, other than shares, rank as capital, and the dividends thereon are to be devoted to some local object of a public and unsectarian character; so that whatever dividends may be declared will be divisible almost equally between the shareholders and the public.

February, 1883.—The propriety of having a fire-hose was now urged, and a proposal made to raise the amount by public subscription, this being a period of enforced economy on the part of the Council. The public, however, did not respond, and some time after, the funds of the Council having somewhat recovered, the hose was provided by them.

11th September, 1883. — The Council subscribed five guineas to the National Memorial to the Duke of Buccleuch, and a further sum of £41 10s 6d was collected in the district by private subscription for the same object.

22nd January, 1884.—A new source of wealth in the Muir was now supposed to be discovered in the form of a seam of Fire-clay. A sample was submitted to a firm of potters for experiment, by whom a variety of goods was manufactured with it. Proposals were made by another firm for its working, but these were not satisfactory, and it proved a failure.

6th December, 1889.—These extracts are brought to a close with a notice of the adoption of the Police Act, and the subsequent application to the Sheriff for the extension of the boundaries of the burgh, which was granted. This important step was intimately connected with—was the natural complement of—another movement which had originated outside the Council, to procurebuilding facilities from the Duke of Buccleuch and the other landowners in the burgh and immediate neighbourhood. The first step in this direction was in 1878 when the Council, acting on the suggestion of certain inhabitants, petitioned the Duke on the subject, but nothing came of it. In the interim, however, the question had assumed a different aspect. It had grown from being a local till it had become a national question. The pent-up condition of great masses of the population in our large towns was engaging the attention of leading public men, and by-and-by the question was introduced into the House of Commons. The whole subject was discussed on various occasions, and it was seen that the views, not only of statesmen, but also of the larger landowners, had undergone an important change. The majority of the latter had hitherto stood upon their abstract rights, and had shewn no great readiness to assist, but rather an inclination to discourage, the devel9pment of towns and the consequent increase of population; but now their tone was altered. Local interest was stirred by the increase in recent years of summer visitors to Sanquhar, and its growing popularity as a health resort. House accommodation was not sufficient to meet the demand, and there was no opportunity afforded for the erection of houses suited for those persons, natives and others, who might be disposed to take up their permanent residence here. A public meeting was called, at which the matter was discussed with great interest; negotiations were opened with the Duke of Buccleuch, and His Grace received in November, 1889, a deputation, who laid the case before him. The Duke, to the satisfaction aud delight of the deputation, declared his willingness to abandon the policy that had hitherto prevailed on the estate with regard to building facilities, and to grant perpetual feus. His Grace, in his remarks, shewed that he had an enlightened conception of the duties of landowners in regard to the housing of the population on their estates, and more particularly of the working classes. The belief was fondly cherished that this interview marked a new departure, which would be fraught with the greatest benefit to the town, and steps were taken for forming a Building Society. Meanwhile, the conditions of the feus were anxiously awaited, and a keen feeling of disappointment prevailed when it was learned that these were of such a nature as to altogether exclude working men from the benefit of the scheme. The feu-duty was considered, for such a place as Sanquhar, exorbitant, and the stipulations otherwise as to the obligations of feuars were of such a nature as to effectually frustrate His Grace’s professed good intentions with regard to the dwellings of the poor, and to prevent anything more being heard of the movement. The prevailing opinion in the district, therefore, now is that in legislative interference alone lie the hopes in this connection of communities so situated as that of Sanquhar.

The Council House

The new or present Council House was erected in 1731. In that year “ the Provost, Baillies, and Council considering that the Tolbooth of this Burgh is very insufficient and almost ruinous, and that it is absolutely necessary that a New Tolbooth be built,” appointed a general meeting of all the Council, Deacons of Crafts, and Heritors within the Burgh to be held “against this day eight days, those that are within the Burgh to be present under the penalty of ten merks Scots.” At this meeting “it was moved .that the situation of the said Tolbooth should be determined by publick vote, which was agreed to, and the vote stated accordingly. It was carried by a plurality of voices that the present situation was the most proper; and, considering that some pretensions are made to the Yolts below the said Tolbooth, and to the vacant ground at the end thereof, therefore they appoint all Pretenders to produce their rights that the same may be seen and considered how far they are good, and Recommend to the Provost to make a Draught of the said Tolbooth and steeple to be built at the end thereof.”

There is no record of the building of this first Tolbooth, but in all likelihood it was erected about the time when Sanquhar was created a Burgh of Barony, in the latter part of the fifteenth century; for, so far back as 1682, a petition was presented to the Royal Convention of Burghs for a grant in aid of its repair. Nor do we know anything of its style of architecture ; but probably, like its successor, it was more notable for strength than elegance.

The present Council House is a strong, substantial structure of two storeys, surmounted by a bell-tower. The walls of the tower are over three feet in thickness. Dr Simpson, in his History, quotes from a document, the nature of which, however, he does not specify, which records a resolution similar in terms to the above, and indicates that the town house was put up by the Duke of Queensberry at his own expense, on a plan submitted by his Grace. Now, the authenticity of this document is doubtful, from the fact that the terms of the resolution which it contains, though they resemble, do not correspond with those found in the Council Minute Book. Further, it is dated 1735, and gives the name of Abraham Crichton of Carco as Provost, whereas Abraham Crichton of Carco was only Provost from May to September of 1734. Nor is there any trace of an acknowledgment, which, it is natural to suppose, would have been made, of the Duke’s great service to the town if he did build the Council House. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the stones were taken from the old Castle, and it is certainly a matter of regret that the Duke, and for that matter the people of Sanquhar, should have had so little antiquarian taste, and so little respect for the interesting historical associations of the ancient peel that they should thus have turned it into a quarry.

Grose, in his “Antiquities,” says—“This Castle was the chief residence of the family of Queensberry. .    .    . His son not having the same predilection for the Castle it was neglected, and suffered to be stripped of its leaden roof, and its materials torn down for other buildings, so that in a few years not a trace of its former magnificence will remain. This is the more probable as its vicinity to the borough of Sanquhar makes its stone extremely convenient for erecting houses in that place.”

Not only was the stone for the Council House found at the Castle, but probably other material as well. At the repair of the dome of the tower some years ago, it was found that the covering of lead had belonged to another building, probably the Castle, where it had covered one of the towers or turrets. The lead had been found too small for the tower of the Council House, and had been enlarged by the addition of a piece several inches in depth, and of a different thickness, carried right round the bottom.

The ground storey contains several vaulted chambers, which were used as the jail. Those in the centre, under the tower, were entered—first by an iron gate, then by an inner door, and, in the space between these, prisoners took air and exercise. The room on the south-west side is of more modern style, and is that of which the magistrates gave the free use for many years to a succession of schoolmasters. During the construction of the railway it was let to one of the contractors for an office, a door being broken out in the wall for his convenience, but to the disfigurement of the building. On the same side there has been a door in the upper storey which has been built up. Both these doorways now do duty as windows. Most of the windows were protected with stanchions, but these were removed in 1846. The upper storey is reached by a double stair, which would appear to have been unprotected for a considerable time, for in 1808 the Council resolved to repair the stair, “ancl to fix an iron railing thereonFrom the vestibule access is had to the three rooms, that to the right being the place of public meeting, where the periodical small debt courts were held, and which is now used as a recreation room. To the left is the Council chamber, which contains the library, and is used as a reading room. In the centre is the Clerk’s chamber, so called because in it were kept the records of the Burgh. In 1781 the Magistrates and Council made arrangements for fitting up the Clerk’s chamber with doors and shelves, and it is stated that “ the most part of the Records is this day Lodged in the said Chamber in the Press with the Iron gate and shelves in which there is three Locks and in the other Press with the wooden door one Lock which is ordered for the Dean of Guild for Keeping weights and other necessaries, which Key he is to keep, and the three keys upon the Iron door one of them Lodged with the Provost, and the two other keys one with each of the eldest Baillies.”

From the corner of the vestibule springs the narrow stair leading to the clock and bell and to another jail—a room under the roof, which contained two beds. This room was lighted by a sky-light, which was not fastened. The more daring of the prisoners, therefore, had no difficulty in going in and out as they pleased. Being often young fellows of the town who had got into a scrape, they had no temptation to make their escape, for, unless they left the town, they would only have been apprehended again; but they contrived to lighten their confinement by nightly escapades, for, clambering on to the roof, they would work their way round to the back, where a smithy stood close to the wall, by which they easily reached the ground, and spent the greater part of the night with their friends, or perhaps their sweethearts, returning to their place before daylight, nobody being a penny the worse or the wiser. An instance of the kind is related in an old magazine, where we read that “ the beadle of the parish of Durisdeer was imprisoned in the Sanquhar jail for a small debt about three o’clock in the morning, and made his exit the same afternoon through the window of his apartment. At dusk the same evening he returned, and attempted to effect an entrance through the aperture by which he had made his escape, but not finding that practicable, on aceount of a huge bundle of blankets he had lashed to his back, he waited upon the jailer, and requested the favour of him to throw open the portals for his re-admission, at the same time assigning as a reason for taking French leave in the earlier part of the day ‘that the nichts waur grown gey cauld noo, an’ he thocht he wauldna’ be muckle misst, till he steppit his waas hame, an’ brocht up twa three pair of blankets to keep him warm at e’en.’ ”Other prisoners, who were not nimble enough for such an escapade, had the rigour of their situation relieved through an ingenious method by which, with the co-operation of their friends outside, they managed to secure a measure of the comforts of life. The prisoners do not appear to have been searched on their committal, and it was no uncommon thing for them to be provided with a stout string, which they let down through the window and over the slates to the ground, where friends were in readiness to attach a basket or a bottle, or both, and thus they had a jolly enough time of it; indeed, some of them used to say they were never so well off as when they were in durance vile.

There was also, as has been said, a jail on the ground floor. If the upper jail was a free and easy institution, this was a tight enough place with its heavy oaken door and grated windows. On one occasion Henry Wright was its inmate. Henry was a mischievous dog. He set fire to some straw that was in the place, but the fire spread beyond his calculations, and he was in imminent danger of being burnt or suffocated. Smoke was seen issuing from the window, and Henry’s face, white with terror, and his voice calling loudly for help, speedily drew .a crowd of people, and he was rescued. He proved in after life a dreadful pest, wandering up and down the country from London to the north of Scotland, and if a single native of Sanquhar were settled in any town, Henry would contrive to find him out. Nobody ever could understand how, even in the labyrinths of London, lie would pursue his search till he had succeeded. And Henry was “none blate.” No matter though it had been the most elegant mansion in the city, he would march boldly up to the front door and pursue his inquiry. His mission, of course, was a begging one. Everybody served him instantly so as to get the ragged wretch away, and he knew it, and, therefore, the more aristocratic the locality so much the better for Henry’s purpose. He had an iron constitution, which he wasted in a long life of continuous debauchery. In his later years he cost the parish hundreds of pounds in relief afforded to him in various towns where he had broken down. Time after time was he removed to the poorhouse, but his free, vagabond spirit could not brook the discipline and restraints of such a place, and so soon as he could crawl he was off. He struggled hard to keep on the road, but old age and infirmities compelled him to surrender at last, and, ultimately his mental faculties giving way, he was removed to the Asylum at Dumfries, where he died three years ago.

In the year 1857, the Council erected a new clock and bell in the Tower at a cost of about £100, to which the Duke of Buccleuch subscribed £25.

In I860, the old smithy which stood behind the Hall, and by which the prisoners from the upper jail descended, was removed. ' The smithy was long the workshop of John Hyslop, “the Convener,” as he was called. The boundary of the burgh ran through between the hearth and the study, and so it came that the Convener could, as he said, stand with one foot within and the other without the burgh, heat his iron without and hammer it within without moving from the spot.

Sanquhar Bridge

A bridge over the river Nith, opposite the town of Sanquhar, has existed from time immemorial. It is quite natural to expect this, for Sanquhar was in the natural line of route between the eastern and western sides of the country. The glens up Crawick and Mennock gave access to the valleys of the Clyde and Tweed and all the east country, while, on the western side, there was a mountain path over the Whing, leading to the head of the valley of the Ken, which formed a gateway to the whole territory of Galloway. A bridge at Sanquhar over the river was therefore all that was necessary to complete the communication, and, though the passenger traffic could not be great in a thinly-populated district, there would be a large traffic in cattle and sheep along this route. There is a drove road still in existence, which forms a very direct communication between east and west. Mention is made in the Charter of the Burgh in 1598 of a bridge, which must then have been in existence. This document grants to the Provost, Bailies, Councillors, community, and inhabitants of the burgh, and their successors for ever, “the bridge of the said Burgh.” Again, the bridge is mentioned in an Act of the Scottish Parliament, passed in 1661, which sets forth its importance to the whole of the lowlands of Scotland. The Act runs as follows :—

“A.D. 1661. Act in favours of the Burgh of Sanquhar—Our Sovereign Lord and Estates of Parliament, takeing to the consideration a supplication presented to them by Johnc Williamson, Commissioner for the Burgh of Sanquhar, in name and behalff of the said Burgh, Shewing that the said Burgh of Sanquhar, being situat and builded upon the Water of Nyth, ane verie great considerable river, which in the Winter tyme is nowayes passable at the beist dureing the tyme of any raine or storine. The bridge which wes therupon being now totallie fallen down and ruined, which is very prejudiciall not only to the said burgh, but also to the haill cuntrie neir the saime, and all others who have occasion to passe that way, who sum-tyme will be forced to stay three or four dayes er they can passe over the said water. And the said burgh, thro the calamities of the tyme and great sufferings they have had, are now redacted to such povertie as they are noways able to build up the said bridge, which so much concemss the weill.of the said burgh and the publict good of that cuntrie. And, therefor, craveing ane recommendation to the severalle presbetries within this kingdom upon this side of fforth (the river Forth) for help and supplie for building up the said bridge, which so much concerncs the weill of the said burgh and all that Cuntrie. And also seeing that such a contribution will be unconsiderable for so great a work, therefor also craveing ane certainc small custome to be payed at the said bridge for such years and off such persones and goods as should be thought lit. And having considered ane testificate of verie many Noblemen and Gentlemen in the shire and circumjacent bounds, Testifieing the necessity and convenicncie of the said bridge, and haveing heard the said Johne Williamson thereanent, who in name of the said burgh, had undertaken the building of the same bridge within the space of two years. And haveing also considered the report of the Commissioners of Parliament appointed for bills and tradeing (to whom the said mater was referred) thereanent, His Majestie, with advice and consent of the said Estates of Parliament, Have ordained and ordaines aue contribution and Voluntar collection to be made and ingathered within all parodies, both in burgh and landward, on the South side of the water of fforth, for building of the said bridge. And that either personally or parochially, as the Magistrats of the said burgh shall desire. And hereby Seriously Recommends to and require all Noblemen, Gentlemen, Magistrats and Ministers of the law and gospell, within the said bounds, to be assisting to the said Magistrats of Sanquhar for so good a work, and for ane liberall Contribution for that effect. And seeing that it is expected that the foresaid collcction will not be so considerable as to defray the charges of so great a work, Therfor His Majestic, with advice aiul conscnt foresaid, hath given and granted, and hereby give and grant, to the said burgh, ane custome to be lifted by them, or any other they shall appoint for uplifting thairof, for the space of Twentie-seven yeers after the building thairof, at the rates following—viz., for ilk footman or woman, two jjennies Scots, for ilk nolt beast or single horse, four pennies, for ilk horse with his load or rydder, six pennies Scots, And for ilk sheip two pennies Scots money. And ordaines all passengers whatsomever to answer, obay, and make payment of the said custome, at the rates abovewrin, to the said burgh, and their collectors thairof, durcing the space above-mentioned, but ony obstacle or objection whatsomever. With power to the said Magistrate to put this Act to dew execution, conforme to the tenor thairof in all points.”

It was across this old bridge, referred to in the recited Act as then “totallie fallen down and ruined,” that the unfortunate Queen (Mary) had been conducted by Lord Herries in her flight from the disastrous battle of Langside on 13th May, 1568. Tradition has it that she rested in Lord Crichton’s town house in Sanquhar, a two-storey building with circular stair behind, the site of which is now occupied by the Royal Bank. It was a hurried flight, and the Queen, in a letter, complains that she had “suffered injuries, calumnies, captivity, hunger, cold, heat, flying without knowing whether fourscore or twelve miles across the country without once pausing to light and then lay on the hard ground having only sour milk to drink and oatmeal to eat without bread, passing three nights with the owls ”— truly a lengthy catalogue of woes. Having crossed the bridge, she was conducted over the Whing, continuing her flight by the Ken and Dee to the sanctuary of Dundrenuan Abbey, on the coast of Kirkcudbright, whence she effected her escape into England, never to return.

The new bridge, for the erection of which the above Act made provision, fell in the course of time into disrepair. It crossed the river at the foot of the brae which leads from the town round the washing green, and a portion of the abutment on the Sanquhar side still remains. It lies between two thorn trees, and is concealed from view by brushwood, but when the rubbish and undergrowth are cleared away the foundation is easily discoverable.

A foot-bridge was erected by the late Mr Williamson of Barr about the year 1810 ; and it is interesting to note that, only a few months ago, a person died in Sanquhar who, when a boy, fell accidentally from this foot-bridge into the river, and was rescued by a dog. Subsequently, when the coal on Drumbuie farm came to be worked, a wooden bridge for carts was erected. There was an iron tramway to guide the carts over, and a road was made leading down from the turnpike, which is still called “The Coal Road.” This wooden bridge fell into a dangerous state, and in the year 1855 the present handsome structure was erected by the Road Trustees on a site about fifty yards farther up the river, thus cutting off the awkward turning of the road as it approached the bridge. The key-stone of the bridge was laid by Miss Otto, Newark.


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