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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Regency of Morton 1572 - 1578

The Earl of Morton had no sooner assumed the reins of government, than his vigorous talents began to be felt. The chief strength of Mary’s friends was in Edinburgh Castle, held for her by Kirkaldy of Grange. All the means at the Regent’s command proving insufficient to reduce this fortress, he obtained from England an army of 1500 men, commanded by Sir William Drury, and provided with artillery. The castle stood a siege of three weeks, and was then obliged to yield (May 29, 1573). With mean vindictiveness, Morton sent the gallant Kirkaldy to the gallows. Maitland of Lethington might have shared the same fate, if it had not been anticipated either by a natural death or suicide. The other chiefs of the queen’s party were spared. After this event, the friends of Mary could no longer make an appearance anywhere in her favour. The new government remained triumphant, and peace was restored to a bleeding and exhausted country.

Morton was, on the whole, a serviceable, though not a just or clement ruler. It was his policy, arising from his love of money, to punish his adversaries rather by fines than bloodshed. All the persons of note who had befriended the queen, he caused to give security for their future behaviour. The smallest offence forfeited the pledge, and the cautioners were then mulcted without mercy. Under this ruling passion, he tampered with the coin, sold justice, and cheated the church of its revenues. It was supposed that he had concealed large treasures in his castle of Dalkeith; but we have no certain account of their ever being found, and probably the popular notions on the subject were exaggerated.

Under Morton, a slight move was made towards the establishment of a kind of episcopacy in the church, though the persons he appointed to the sees were mere creatures who consented to be receivers of the revenues on his account. The general feeling of the people continued to be decidedly in favour of the simple presbyterian polity, and the Regent’s interference with the purity of that system was one cause of his loss of popularity, and of his subsequent ruin. While the recognised champion of the Protestant interest in Scotland, and, as such, the protégé of Elizabeth, he disliked the presbyterian clergy. He not only refused to countenance by his presence any of their assemblies, hut ‘threatened some of the most zealous with hanging, alleging that otherwise there could be no peace or order in the country.' The noted efforts of King James to bring the church into a prelatic conformity with England, had in reality an exemplar in the doings of the Regent Morton.

Meanwhile the young king was reared in great seclusion in Stirling Castle, under the care of the celebrated scholar George Buchanan. His acquirements, at a very early age, were such as to raise great hopes of his future rule. Killegrew, the English ambassador, reports having heard him, at eight years of age, translate the Bible, ad aperturam libri, from Latin into French, and from French into English, ‘so well as few men could have added anything to his translation.’ But, in reality, his character was a strange mixture of cleverness and weakness, of wit and folly. His greatest deficiency was in a courageous will to pursue the ends of justice. He could clearly enough apprehend the disease, and speak and write about it plausibly; but he could do little towards its cure, because he shrank from all strong measures except against poor and inferior people, and those who had wounded his own pettier feelings.

The regency of Morton came to a premature conclusion in consequence of a combination raised against him by the Earls of Athole and Argyle; and James became nominally the acting ruler (March 1578), ere he had completed his twelfth year.

1572, Nov 18
' the morning, was seen a star northward, very bright and clear, in the constellation of Cassiopeia, at the back of her chair; which, with three chief fixed stars of the said constellation, made a geometrical figure lozenge-wise, of the learned men called rhombus. This star, at the first appearing, seemed bigger than Jupiter, and not much less than Venus when she seemeth greatest.... the said star never changed his place.... and so continued (by little and little appearing less) the space of sixteen months; at what time it was so small, that rather thought, by exercise of oft viewing, might imagine the place, than any eye could judge the presence of the same.’

This was the celebrated Star of Tycho, so called because Tycho Brahé made it the subject of observation. The Danish astronomer is known to have first observed it a few days before the date assigned by Holinshed - namely on the 11th of November, while taking an evening walk in the fields. From the suddenness of its appearance, and its very great brightness, he suspected that his sense was deceived, and was only convinced he saw truly when he found some peasants gazing at the imposing stranger with as much astonishment as himself. It has been regarded as an example of a class of stars which move in periods between remote and comparatively near points in space; and as there was a similar object seen in 945 and 1264, it was supposed that the period of this star was somewhat over 300 years. But ‘the period of 300 years, which Goodriche conjectured, has been reduced by Kiell and Pigot to 150 years.’

The Star of Tycho, during the time it was visible, ‘suffered several very remarkable changes. On a sudden it became so brilliant, that it surpassed in brightness even Venus and Mercury, and was visible on the meridian in the daytime. Its light then began to diminish, till it disappeared sixteen months after it had been first seen.’

‘This year, a great and sharp frost almost continually lasted from before the feast of All Saints, till after the feast of Epiphany of our Lord, with sometimes great and deep snows, and sometimes rains, which freezed as fast as the same fell to the ground, wherethrough at Wrotham, in Kent, and many other places, the arms and boughs of trees, being overcharged with ice, broke off and fell from the stocks.... also the wind continued north and east till after the Ascension Day, with sharp frosts and snows, whereby followed a late spring.’ —Stowe.

1573, Apr 3
The gipsies, who are usually said to have wandered into Europe from the East in the beginning of the fifteenth century, are not heard of in Scotland before 1540, when a writ of the Privy Seal was passed in favour of ‘John Faw, Lord and Earl of Little Egypt,’ enabling him to rule his company in conformity with the laws of his pretended country. First accepted as noble refugees, possessing a semi-religious character, they were in time discovered to be mere rogues and vagabonds. It was now declared in the Privy Council, that ‘the commonweal of this realm was greatumly damniflet and harmit through certain vagabond, idle, and counterfeit people of divers nations, falsely named Egyptians, living on stowth and other unlawful means.’ These people were commanded to settle to fixed habitations and honest industry; otherwise it should be competent to seize and throw them into the nearest prison, when, if they could not give caution for a due obedience to this edict, they were ‘to be scourgit throughout the town or parish, and sae to be imprisonit and scourgit fra parish to parish, while [till] they be utterly renderit furth of this realm.’—

Little more than three years onward (August 27, 1576), it was declared that this act had ‘wantit execution‘—a very common misfortune to acts of council in those days; and it was found that ‘the said idle vagabonds has continuit in their wicked and mischievous manner of living, committing murders, theft, and abusing the simple and ignorant people with sorcery and divination.’ Men in authority were now enjoined to stricter courses with these wanderers, on pain of being held as their accomplices.

May 2
An English force having come to help the Regent in winning Edinburgh Castle, the operations of the siege commenced by the fixing up of twenty ‘great pieces’ at four several places around the ancient fortress. ‘They shot so hard continually, that the second day they had beat down wholly three towers. The Laird of Grange . . . . would not give over, but shot at them continually, both with great shot and small; so that there was a very great slaughter amongst the English cannoneers, sundry of them having their legs and arms torn from their bodies in the air by the violence of the great shot. At last, the Regent continuing his siege so close and hard—the captain being forced by the defendants for lack of victuals—rendered the same, after a great many of them were slain [May 29].’—Bir.

Mr Robert Hamilton, minister of St Andrews, was in Edinburgh at this time, along with the servant who had written down John Knox’s prediction regarding the fate of Kirkaldy (sec under 1571). According to James Melville, ‘they gaed up to the Castle-hill, and saw the forewark of the castle all demolished, and running like a sandy brae; they saw the men of weir all set in order. The captain, with a little staff in his hand, taken down over the walls upon the ladders, and Mr Robert, troubled with the thrang of the people, says: "Go, what have I ado here?" In going away, the servant remembers his master of the sermon, and the words, wha was compelled to glorify God, and say he was a true prophet.’

Aug 3
‘William Kirkaldy of Grange, knight, sometime captain of the Castle of Edinburgh, and James Mosman, goldsmith, were harlit in twa carts backward, frae the Abbey to the Cross of Edinburgh, where they, with Mr James [Kirkaldy] and James Cockie, were hangit,’ ‘for keeping of the said castle against the king and his regent.’—D.
O. Bir.

Such was the dismal end of one who had undoubtedly been a most valiant soldier, though, it must be added, an unsteady politician, and too much a follower of private ends in public affairs. His concern in the assassination of Cardinal Beaton also detracts somewhat from the sympathy which would naturally be felt for him on this occasion. James Melville relates some curious particulars regarding his latter days and his execution:

When John Knox was on his death-bed in Edinburgh, November 1572, the situation of Kirkaldy and his friends in the castle had become critical. Mr David Lindsay, minister of Leith, came to visit the reformer, and asked how he did. ‘He answerit: "Weel, brother, I thank God; I have desired all this day to have you, that I may send you yet to yon man in the castle, whom ye ken I have loved sae dearly. Go, I pray you, tell him that I have sent you to him yet ance to warn and bid him, in the name of God, leave that evil cause, and give ower that castle: gif not, he shall be brought down ower the walls with shame, and hing against the sun: sae God has assured me." Mr David, howbeit he thought the message hard, and the threatening over particular, yet obeyed, and passed to the castle; and meeting with Sir Robert Melville walking on the wall, tauld him, wha was, as he thought, meikle movit with the matter. Thereafter [he] communed with the captain, whom he thought also somewhat moved; but he passed from him into the Secretar Lethington, with whom, when he had conferred a while, he came out to Mr David again, and said to him: "Go, tell Mr Knox he is but ane . . . . prophet." Mr David, returning, tauld Mr Knox he had discharged the commission faithfully, but that it was not weel accepted of after the captain had conferrit with the secretar. "Weel (says Mr Knox) I have been earnest with my God anent the twa men; for the ane [Kirkaldy] I am sorry that so should befall him; yet God assures me there is mercy for his saul: for that other [the Secretary Lethington], I have nae warrant that ever he shall be weel."

The castle surrendered, and Kirkaldy fell into the power of the Regent Morton. He offered all he possessed for his life. But the reformer’s prophecy was to be fulfilled, and how far it served to fulfil itself, we may surmise from what Morton wrote to the English agent. ‘Considering,’ he says, ‘what has been, and daily is, spoken by the preachers, that God’s plague will not cease while the land be purged of blood, and having regard that such as are interested by the death of their friends, the destruction of their houses, and away taking of their goods, could not be satisfied by any offer made to me in particular... I deliberated to let justice proceed.’

Mr David Lindsay, who had gone with Kirkaldy’s fruitless offer, ‘the morn by nine hours comes again to the captain, the Laird of Grange [who was now confined under a guard in a house in the High Street], and taking him to a fore-stair of the lodging apart, resolves him it behoved him to suffer. "O, then, Mr David (says he), for our auld friendship, and for Christ’s sake, leave me not." So he remains with him, wha, passing up and down a while, came to a shot [a hole fitted with a sliding panel in the wooden front of the house], and seeing the day fair, the sun clear, and a scaffold preparing at the Cross, he falls in a great study [reverie], and alters countenance and colour; whilk, when Mr David perceived, he came to him and asked what he was doing. "Faith, Mr David (says he), I perceive weel now that Mr Knox was the true servant of God, and his threatening is to be accomplished."’ Lindsay mentioned the assurance which Knox had had regarding the ultimate salvation of the unfortunate man; which gave him much comfort and renewed courage; ‘sae that he dined moderately, and thereafter took Mr David apart for his strengthening to suffer that death, and in [the] end beseeks him not to leave him, but to convoy him to the place of execution. "And take heed (says he), I hope in God, after I shall be thought past, to give you a taiken of the assurance of that mercy to my saul, according to the speaking of that man of God."

‘Sae, about three hours afternoon, he was brought out, and Mr David with him, and about four, the sun being wast about the northward nook of the steeple, he was put aff the ladder, and his face first fell to the east, but within a little while, turned about to the west, and there remained against the sun; at whilk time Mr David, ever present, says he marked him, when all thought he was away [dead], to lift up his hands that were bund before him, and lay them down again saftly; whilk moved him with exclamation to glorify God before all the people’

On the destruction of the queen’s party, ‘the burgesses and craftsmen wha remainit the time of the cummers [troubles] in Edinburgh, behovit to compone for their life, and the least that any man payit was twenty merks, and they that had nocht to pay were continuit to the third day of the aire, with fifteen days’ warning, to be halden within the sheriffdom. This composition should have been equally distributed betwixt the Regent and the burgesses that had their houses destroyit; but the Regent causit bring the haul to the Castle of Edinburgh, and wald not part with ane penny; for the whilk causes the burgesses stayit and wald not pursue nane hereafter, by occasion they were nocht the better, and also therethrough obteinit the indignation of their neighbours. God of his grace grant the poor consolation, for they thole great trouble!’

Afterwards—’ the burgesses and craftsmen and others wha remainit in the town in the time of the cummers, were chargit that they, on their awn expenses, might mak black gray gowns, with the whilk they stood at the kirk door ane hour before the preaching . . . ., whilk gowns were decernit to be dealt to the poor.’—D. O.

Aug 25
During the late troubles, the Border-men had been in a great measure left to pursue their own courses unmolested. Now that the civil war was ended, Morton was able to turn his attention in that direction. At this date, he proceeded from Dalkeith with a host of 4000 men to Peebles, where he was met by the Earl of Argyle with a hundred horse and an equal number of ‘carriage-men;’ and the party then went to Jedburgh against ‘the thieves.’ ‘Some thieves came in and gave band for the rest, and some pledges were delivered to the Regent for good order; but or [ere] they wald obey, their corns and houses were destroyed, with great spulyie of their goods.’ The Regent returned in a few days to Dalkeith. ‘Notwithstanding of this raid, the haill thieves convenit, and harried the country, following ay on the host.’ A second and more vigorous expedition of the same kind having then been resolved on, ‘seven score or thereby of the thieves come to the Regent, and pledges for the rest, wha was put in prison, some in the Castle of Edinburgh, some in the Tolbooth thereof, and some in the north land.’—D.

The burgh records of Glasgow from 1573 to 1581, of which liberal excerpts have been published by the Maitland Club, throw much light on manners and the state of society, and also on the burgal or municipal customs. Glasgow was then a little town, undistinguished from any other of its size, excepting in its university and a small commerce, chiefly of a coasting description. We see in these records all the common affairs of a petty town, but with the rough character proper to an age of ignorance and ill-regulated feeling.

The quarrels, flytings (scoldings), and acts of personal violence form by far the most conspicuous entries in these records. Men strike women, women clapperclaw each other, and even the dignitaries of the town are assailed on the street and in their council-house. Whingers (that is, swords) and pistols are frequently used in these conflicts, and sometimes with dire effects. As examples—

April 9, 1574.—’ Alexander Curry and Marion Smith, spouses, are found in the wrang for troublance done by them to Margaret Hunter, in casting down of two pair of sheets, tramping them in the gutter, and striking of the said Margaret.’ Surety is given that Alexander and Marion shall in future abstain from striking each other; and ‘gif they flyte, to be brankit ‘—that is, invested with the kind of iron bridle, with a tongue retroverted into the mouth, of which a description has already been given. (See under Oct. 30, 1567.)

April 23.—William Wilson is found in the wrong for blooding of Richard Wardrope on the head. Richard and Andrew Wardrope are at the same time found in the wrong as the occasion thereof; and John and Andrew Wardrope, for hurting and wounding of the said William Wilson, to the great effusion of his blood in the Gallowgate on the morning thereafter. So also, Richard and John Wardrope are declared guilty of ‘onsetting and invading of the said William with drawn swords and pistols in the mercat, on Shere Thursday last.’ Shere Thursday, [So called ‘for that in old Fathers’ days the people would that day shear their heads and clip their beards, and so make them honest against Easter Day.’—Authority quoted in Brand’s Pop. Antiqujties, by Ellis. ] otherwise called Maundy Thursday, is the day before Good Friday.

One common species of case is an attack of one female upon another, ‘striking of her, scarting of her, and dinging her to the erd’ [earth]; in one instance, ‘shooting of her down in her awn fire.’ Injurious words often accompany or provoke these violent acts. Bartilmo Lawteth strikes ‘ane poor wife’ to the effusion of her blood. Ninian Swan strikes Marion Simpson with ‘ane tangs’ [pair of tongs], and knocks her down—she, however, having previously spit in his face. ‘Andrew Heriot is [November 8, 1575] fund in the wrang and amerciament of court for troublance done to David Morison, in striking of him with his neive in Master Henry Gibson’s writing-chamber, on the haffet [side of the head], and also for the hitting of him on the face with his neive upon the Hie Gait, and making him baith blae and bloody therewith.’

George Elphinstone of Blythswood, one of the bailies, suffered a violent attack in the council-house (August 24, 1574) from Robert Pirry, a tailor, who wounded him with his whinger, striking one of the officers at the same time. For this, Pirry lost his freedom as a burgess. Six years afterwards, the same magistrate was assaulted on the street by George Herbertson, ‘saying how durst he be sae pert to deal ony wines without his advice;’ after which he threatened the bailie with his whinger. Immediately thereafter, Herbertson assailed the magistrate in the Tolbooth, ‘giving him many injurious words, sic as knave, skaybell, matteyne, and loon, and that he was gentiller nor he, having his hand on his whinger, rugging it halffings in and out, and that he cared him not, nor the land that he had nowther.’

In June 1589, Thomas Miln, chirurgeon, was brought before the magistrates for slanderous speeches against them, and for applying to the town itself an epithet which now, at least, appears strangely inapplicable—the Hungry Town of Glasgow. He wath sentenced to appear at the Cross and openly confess his fault.

Much light is thrown on the character of the age by the magistrates ordering ‘every booth-halder [shopkeeper] to have in readiness within the booth ane halbert, jack, and steel bonnet, for eschewing of sic inconveniences as may happen, conform to the auld statute made thereanent.’

The streets of the town appear to have been kept much in the same state in which we now find those of neglected country villages, yet not without efforts towards a better order of things. The ordinances for good order may be said to prove the disorder. It is statute (1574) ‘that there be nae middings laid upon the fore-gate [front street], nor yet in the Green, and that nae fieshers toom their uschawis upon the fore-gate, and that nae stanes or timber lie on the gate langer nor year and day.’ In 1577, this statute is renewed in nearly the same words, shewing that it was but imperfectly obeyed; and next year there is a simple order ‘that the haill middings be removed off the Hie Gait, and that nane scrape on the Hie Gait.’

The town, according to a common custom, had its ‘minstrels,’ by which is inferred simply musicians—probably a couple of bagpipers. In 1579, there is an entry of ten shillings ‘to the minstrels, for their expenses to Hamilton siege.’ This was a siege in which popular affections would probably be engaged at Glasgow, as its object was to destroy the last vestige of the queen’s interest in Scotland. At the Whitsunday court 1574, the minstrels are continued until ‘the Summerhill,’ by which was meant a court annually held at a place so called, when the marches of the town’s property were subjected to review. There, accordingly, on Sunday the 20th June, Archibald Bordland and Robert Duncan are ‘admittit to be menstrals to the town for this instant year, and to have frae ilk freeman allenarly, but meat, twa shillings money at the least, with mair at the giver’s pleasure.’

In the treasurer’s accounts, we are struck by the many considerable presents, chiefly of wine, given by the town to noblemen possessing influence over its fortunes. We find, amongst frequent propines of wine to the Earl of Argyle, as much as seventeen gallons given at once. Two hogsheads are given to Lord Boyd, six quarts to the lord provost, two quarth to the parson of Glasgow, and so forth. At the town’s banquets, aquavitae figures on several occasions, a quart being charged twenty-four shillings.

Several allusions are made in these records to the ‘knocks‘—that is, clocks—set up for the public conveniency. An old one is repaired, and James Scott gets a sum ‘for labour done by him in colouring of the knock, moon, and horologe, and other common work of the town.’ References are made to several trades not known in our age by the same names, as a lorimer, the maker of the ironwork in horse-furniture; a snap-maker, by which is to be understood a maker of firelocks, then called snap-hances; a ladlernan; a tabroner, meaning a drummer; &c. in 1577, the magistrates grant a pension of ten marks to Alexander Hay, chirurgeon, to encourage him to remain in Glasgow, ‘in readiness for serving of the town by his craft and art.’ This gentleman would bleed the citizens in exigencies of their health, and shave them daily.

The editor of these records remarks on the treasurer’s accounts, that the revenue is fully stated, and the whole expenditure minutely detailed. ‘It is true,’ he says, ‘the magistrates and "divers honest men" occasionally treat themselves to a dejeune; but this is after the completion of some public business, tending to the honour and profit of the commonweal. Indeed, the class of disbursements which, strictly speaking, are the least legal, the most rigid corrector of abuses could not well object to. We allude to the numerous benevolences bestowed upon poor scholars to buy them a suit of clothes, or books, to enable them to prosecute their studies; the sums voted to shipwrecked mariners, to ruined merchants who had lost their horses by some untoward accident, or to the widows and children of those burgesses whom unforeseen difficulties had plunged into absolute want. Not a little of the public funds is sometimes devoted to ransom unfortunate burgesses from captivity among the Turks, while considerable sums are expended in providing medical aid for those afflicted with physical infirmities, or who have met with severe bodily injuries.

.... Much curious matter may be elicited regarding the sports and pastimes of the people. The diverse disbursements for footballs are not unworthy of notice. We also meet with payments made to a piper called Ryall Dayis, and to "a fule with a treen sword," as well as to certain young men of the town, for their playing—probably bearing a part in some mask or public pageant. The care bestowed on the decorement of the town’s minstrels is evinced in the entry of the purchase of blue cloth to make two coats for them, with as much "cramosie" as would serve for containing the town’s arms thereon. Nevertheless, though this care was shewn for the recognised minstrels of the burgh, the profession had thus early fallen into disrepute; for in the ordinance anent the pest [in 1574], "pipers, fiddlers, and minstrels," are unceremoniously classed together as vagabonds, and threatened with severe penalties, should they venture into the city in contravention of the act.’

In those days, the citizens of Glasgow kept each his cow, which was fed, under the care of a town’s herdsman, in a common beyond the walls, as is the case with small burghs like Lauder and Peebles at the present day. In March 1589, John Templeton and John Hair were appointed herds for the year to come, John Templeton for ‘the nolt and guids aboon the Cross,’ and John Hair for ‘the nolt and guids beneath the Cross and the rest of the nether parts of the town.’

1874, Apr 11
A strange tragedy took place at the Cross of Edinburgh. Robert Drummond, sometimes called Doctor Handie, who had been a great seeker and apprehender of papists, had been punished for adultery by exposure in the church and banishment from the city. Out of favour on account of his services against popery, be was pardoned and brought back; but being again found guilty of the same offence, he was condemned to exposure in the stocks at the Cross, along with the companion of his crime; after which he was to be burnt in the cheek. While undergoing this punishments ‘there being great science (?) of people about them, and the Doctor Handie being in ane great furie, said: "What wonder ye? I saIl give you more occasion to wonder." So, suddenly, he took his awn knife, wha strake himself three or four times foment the heart, with the whilk he departit. This done, the magistrates causit harl him in ane cart through the town, and the bloody knife borne behind in his hand; and on the morn harlit in the same manner to the gallows on the Burgh-muir, where he was buried.’—D.O.

The Regent had passed an act, very agreeable to the people, to prevent the transporting of grain out of the country. There were, however, certain merchants who found it not difficult, by means of bribes, to obtain from him a licence enabling them to break the law. One of these was Robert Gourlay, originally a servant of the Duke of Chatelherault,’ but now a rich merchant in Edinburgh— at least so we may reasonably infer from the grandeur of his house, not long ago existing. Robert was driving a good trade in this way, when the kirk, of which he was an elder, interfered to put an end to what it regarded as an unrighteous traffic. He was pronounced by the General Assembly to be guilty of a high offence in transporting victual out of the realm, and was sentenced to appear in the marriage-place in the church, and publicly confess his offence, clad in a gown of his own, which should thereafter be given to the poor. He obstinately refused to submit. The Regent came forward as his friend, and told the minister, Mr James Lowson: ‘I gave him licence, and it pertaineth not to you to judge of that matter.' But it was all in vain. A week after, Robert was glad not only to go through the prescribed penance, but to crave forgiveness of the kirk for his temporary disobedience?

July 29
The press was not likely to be a friend to the Regent, and the Regent, therefore, was not a friend to the press. At this date he induced the Privy Council to issue an edict that ‘nane tak upon hand to emprent or sell whatsoever book, ballet, or werk,’ without its being examined and licensed, under pain of death, and confiscation of
goods.—P. C. R.

Sep 3
The town-council of Edinburgh agreed with a Frenchman that he should set up a school in the city, to teach his own language, for which he should be entitled to charge each child twenty-five shillings yearly, besides enjoying a salary of twenty pounds during the council’s pleasure.—City
Register, apud Maitland.

‘The summer right evil weather, and dear; the boll of malt five merk and half merk, and the boll of meal four merk and three merk. Evil August; wind and rain. The harvest evil weather that ever was seen; continual weet.’—C. F.

Consequently, in autumn and winter, ‘there was ane great dearth in Scotland of all kinds of victuals.’—.-D. O. ‘About Lammas, wheat was sold at London for three shillings the bushel; but shortly after it was raised to four shillings, five shillings, six shillings, and before Christmas to a noble and seven shillings, which so continued long after. Beef was sold for twenty pence and two-and-twenty pence the stone, and all other flesh and white meats at an excessive price; all kind of salt fish very dear, as five herrings twopence. Yet great plenty of fresh fish, and oft times the same very cheap. . . . All this dearth notwithstanding (thanks be given to God) there was no want of anything to him that wanted not money.’—Howes

Oct 14
‘The pest came to Leith by ane passenger wha came out of England, and sundry died thereof before it was known.’ On the 24th, it entered Edinburgh, ‘brought in by ane dochter of Malvis Curll out of Kirkaldy.’ The Court of Session abstained from sitting in consequence. ‘My Lord Regent’s grace skalit his house and men of weir, and was but six in household; I know not whether for fear of the pest or for sparing of expenses’- D. O.

In December, the kirk-session of Edinburgh, ‘foreseeing the great apparent plague and scourge of pest, hinging universally upon the hail realm,’ and considering that ‘the only ordinary means appointed by God in his holy word, whereby the said apparent scourge may be removed, is ane public fast and humiliation,’ did accordingly appoint such a fast, to last for eight days, with sermon and prayers every day, and the people’s ‘food to be breid and drink with all kind of sobriety.’

We do not hear of the pest proving very deadly in Scotland on this occasion.

Dec 25
This Christmas-day, the minister and reader of Dumfries having refused to teach or read, ‘the town... . brought a reader of their own, with tabret and whistle, and caused him read the prayers.’ This extraordinary exercise they maintained during all the days of Yule. It was complained of at the subsequent General Assembly, and referred to the Regent.—Cal.

In this year died David Home of Wedderburn, a gentleman of good account in Berwickshire, and father of the David Home of Godscroft, to whom Scottish literature owes the
History of the House of Douglas. The son has left us a portraiture of the father, which, even when we make a good allowance for filial partiality, must be held as shewing that society was not then without estimable members. ‘He died in the fiftieth year of his age, of a consumption, being the first (as is said) of his family who had died a natural death—all the rest having lost their lives in defence of their country.

‘He was a man remarkable for piety and probity, ingenuity well versed in the Latin tongue He had the Psalms, and particularly some short sentences of them, always in his mouth; such as: "It is better to trust in the Lord than in the princes of the earth:" "Our hope ought to be placed in God alone" He particularly delighted in the 146th psalm, and sung it whilst he played on the harp with the most sincere and unaffected devotion. He was strictly just, utterly detesting all manner of fraud. I remember, when a conversation happened among some friends about prudence and fraud, his son George happened to say, that it was not unlawful to do a good action, and for a good end, although it might be brought about by indirect methods, and that this was sometimes necessary. "What," says he, "George, do you call ane indirect way? It is but fraud and deceit covered under a specious name, and never to be admitted or practised by a good man." He himself always acted on this principle, and was so strictly just, and so little desirous of what was his neighbour’s, that, in the time of the civil wars, when Alexander, his chief; was forfeit for his defection from the queen’s party, he might have had his whole patrimony, and also the abbacy of Coldingham, but refused both the one and the other. When Patrick Lindsay desired that he would ask something from the governor [Morton], as he was sure whatever he asked would be granted, he refused to ask anything, saying that he was content with his own. When Lindsay insisted, says he: "Since you will have it so, I will ask something; but you must first assure me I will not be refused." Then Lindsay swore to him that he should have whatever he desired. "Let me have, then," says he, "the abbacy of Haddington." "That you cannot get," says Lindsay, "as I received it myself some time ago. But ask something seriously; for if you do not get a share of our enemies’ estates, our party will never put sufficient trust in you." To this David answered: "If I never can give proofs of my fidelity otherwise than in that manner, I will never give any, let him doubt of it who may. I have hitherto lived content with my own, and will live so, nor do I want any more."

‘David was a man of that temper, that he never was willing to offer any injury, nor to take notice of one when offered. His uncle George Douglas sometimes stayed at Wedderburn. He still kept up a secret grudge at Alexander of Home on account of that controversy they had had about Cockburnspath. Alexander happened to be at this time at Manderston, which is within half a mile of Wedderburn. Alexander of Manderston, with a great number of attendants, goes out with him to hunt; and as he was a turbulent man, and much given to ostentation, under the pretext of seeking game, he ranges through all Wedderburn’s fields. This was intended as an affront to George Douglas, and to shew him what trouble he occasioned to his nephew David.

‘George had resolved to bear the thing patiently, and to dissemble; but David, knowing their intention, and not bearing that any affront should be put upon his uncle, mounts his horse, and orders his servants to do the like, and, taking George along with him, he presses hard upon the heels of Alexander, who was then going home, and follows him to the very doors of his own house of Manderston, and hunted about the whins and broom at the back of the garden, till evening forced him to return home.’

At this time was the conspiracy or Black Band formed against him, which he bore patiently, and at the same time wisely repulsed. I know not upon what account some gentlemen of the Merse entered into this conspiracy; it is certain it was for no mis-demeanour of his, nor did they pretend any. Alexander of Manderston was the contriver of the whole. It was a thing openly known, for in the meetings of the judges on the Borders about mutual restitutions, the one [party] stood on this side, and the other on that, like opposite armies One day, when both parties were returning home, and among the rest Manderston, some of Wedderburn’s followers, flushed with indignation, advised him no longer to bear the arrogance of the confederates. He, on the other hand, refused to stain his hands in blood, saying that Manderston was furious and insolent in his youth, but would grow wiser when he was old, and acknowledge his fault.’

John Stuart, the titular abbot of Coldingham, a natural son of James V., was importuned to join the Black Band, but had too much regard for Wedderburn to do so. While he was absent in the north with his brother the Regent Moray, his wife, who had a spite at Wedderburn, made a strange kind of demonstration against him. She ordered the men of her faction to be present on a certain day, and to bring along with them wains, carts, and other things fit for carrying off the corns, all of which was carefully done. But Wedderburn with his friends having gathered together about 500 horse, hastens to the fields, and dissipates the scattered troops before they could unite themselves into one, breaks the wagons, looses the horses, and drives them away. On this they all betake themselves to flight, together with Stuart’s wife (she was called Hepburn, and a sister of old Bothwell). A few received some strokes; none were wounded; but so great was the terror struck into them all, that they all sought hiding-places in their flight. Some hid themselves among the furze or broom; others under the banks of the river; some in the fields of corn, and all either in one place or other. One John Edington (commonly called the Liar, as he was always the messenger of strange news, which was commonly false) hid himself in the ambry of a poor old woman, from which he was dislodged, to the great diversion of his enemies and his own great terror. When their fear a little subsided, and it appeared that none were hurt, the affair appeared so ridiculous both to themselves and others, that Hepburn (as she was a woman of a pretty good genius and poetically inclined) described the whole in some verses. Nor was there ever anything afterwards attempted by the confederates.’

David is described as being swift of foot, and fond of foot-races. Horse-racing was also one of his amusements. ‘He collected a number of the swiftest horses both from the north of Scotland and from England, by the assistance of one Graeme, recommended to him by his brother-in-law, Lochinvar. He generally had eight or more of that kind, so that the prize was seldom won by any but those of his family. . . . He was so great a master of the art of riding, that he would often be beat to-day, and within eight days lay a double wager on the same horses, and come off conqueror.... He went frequently from home to his diversion, sometimes to Haddington, and sometimes to Peebles, the one of which is eighteen, and the other twenty-four miles distant, and sometimes stayed there for several days with numerous attendants, regardless of expense, as being too mean and sordid a care, and below the dignity of one of his rank.

‘Being educated in affluence, he delighted in fencing, hunting, riding, throwing the javelin, managing horses, and likewise in cards and dice. Yet he was sufficiently careful of his affairs without doors. Those of a more domestic nature he committed to the care of his wife, and when he had none, to his servants; so that he neither increased nor diminished his patrimony.’

The writer, in the true spirit of his age, cites Wedderburn’s love of the house of Home as ‘not the least of his virtues.’ The chief was prejudiced against him, but ‘he bore it patiently, and never failed giving him all due honour.’ At length, Lord Home being taken prisoner by Morton at the close of the queen’s wars, and put into Leith Port, Wedderburn went to see him, and acted so much as his friend as to obtain his release and secure his love.

David’s first wife, of the Johnstons of Elphinston, in Haddingtonshire, was a paragon of benevolence. She not only supplied the poor bountifully, but often gave large help to superior people who had fallen back in the world. She would give the clothes of her own children to clothe the naked and friendless. Yet, such was her good management, that she left at her death 3000 merks in gold— ‘a great sum in those days.’ ‘Everything in the family had a splendid appearance; and this she affected in compliance to her husband’s temper. As she was herself, so she instructed her children in the fear of God, and in everything that was good and commendable. To sum up her whole character, she obtained from all the appellation of the Good Lady Wedderburn.’

David ‘was of a beautiful and manly make. His complexion (for a man) was rather too fair. He had yellow hair, and an aquiline nose; his stature rather inclining to tall, his countenance comely and majestic, claiming at the same time both love and reverence. He much affected elegance in his dress, but not extravagance. He was very fond of his children, and seldom ceased to dance them in his arms. These are the parents who make me rejoice in my birth. These are the parents who are an honour to their posterity. To live and die like them, loving and beloved by all, is my great and only ambition."

1575, Feb
‘In the meantime, there was ane great dearth in Scotland of all kind of victuals.’—D. O.

Mar 7
In the course of the late civil war, Lords John and Claud Hamilton came to an inn to apprehend old Carmichael and the Laird of Westerhall. The house being beset and set on fire, the two gentlemen surrendered, on condition that their lives should be spared; but after they came forth, and were disarmed, Westerhall was slain, and Carmichael carried away a prisoner.

Westerhall being a dependent of the house of Angus, his death added largely to the resentment already felt by the Regent towards the Hamiltons. Love, however, which so often raises wrath, here came in to smooth it. There was a certain widowed Countess of Cassillis, whom Lord John knew and loved; and, as she was a cousin of the Regent, it became necessary to effect a reconciliation with him before a match could be effected. As one step towards this object—for doubtless there would be others, and particularly one involving a money-payment to the griping Morton—Lord John, now the actual head of the princely house of Hamilton, agreed, along with his brother, to perform a ceremony of expiation for the death of Westerhall. The Earl of Angus, head of the house of Douglas, being placed in the inner court of Holyrood Palace, Lords John and Claud walked across barefooted and bareheaded, and falling down on their knees before the earl, held up to him each a naked sword by the point, implying that they put their lives in his power, trusting solely to his generosity for their not being immediately slain. Soon after this strange scene, Lord John wedded Lady Cassius.

This seems, after all, to have been but a partial and temporary restoration of the Hamiltons to court favour. There were many who could not forget or forgive their concern in the slaughter of the Regents Moray and Lennox. Douglas of Lochleven, uterine brother of Moray, was irreconcilably bitter against them. ‘Twice be set upon the Lord Hamilton, as he was coming from Aberbrothick, and chased him so that he was constrained to return to Aberbrothick again. Another time, as he was coming through Fife, he made him flee to Dairsie, which he beset and lay about it till the Regent sent to him and commanded him to desist.’—H, of G.

Mar 8
Though copies of the English Bible had found their way into Scotland, and been of great service in promoting and establishing the reformed doctrines, there was as yet no abundance of copies, nor had any edition been printed within the kingdom. There was, however, a burgess of Edinburgh named Thomas Bassendyne, who for some years had had a small printing-office there. He was probably too poor a man to undertake the printing of a thick quarto, the form in which the Bible was then usually presented; but he took into association with himself a man of better connection and means, named Alexander Arbuthnot, also an Edinburgh burgess; and now it was deemed possible that an edition of the Scriptures might be brought out within the realm of Scotland. The government, under the Regent Morton, gave a favourable ear to the project, and it was further encouraged by the bishops, superintendents, and other leading men of the kirk.

On the day noted, the Privy Council, seeing that ‘the charge and hazard of the wark will be great and sumptuous,’ decreed that each parish in the kingdom should advance £5 as a contribution, to be collected under the care of the said officers of the church, £4, 13s. 4d. of this sum being considered as the price of a copy of the impression, to be afterwards delivered, ‘wed and sufficiently bund in paste or timmer,’ and the remaining 6s. 8d. as the expense of collecting the money. The money was to be handed to Alexander Arbuthnot before the 1st of July next.

Arbuthnot and Bassendyne, on their parts, bound themselves to execute the work under certain penalties, and respectable men came forward as their sureties. Those who stood for Arbuthnot were David Guthrie of Kincaldrum, William Guthrie of Halkerton, William Rynd of Carse, and James Arnot of Lentusche—all Forfarshire gentlemen, be it remarked—a fact arguing that Arbuthnot himself was of the same district. The exact arrangements of Arbuthnot and Bassendyne between themselves do not at this time appear; but we find that Bassendyne engaged in Flanders one ‘Salomon Kerknett of Magdeburg’ to come and act as ‘composer’ at 49s. of weekly wages, and sought the aid of Mr George Young, servant of the abbot of Dunfermline, as corrector of the press. Having ‘guid characters and prenting irons,’ it was to be expected that the work, great and sumptuous as it was, would go quickly and pleasantly on. This hope, however, was not to be realised. (See under July 18, 1576.) —P. C. R.

Among the evils of these times, was one which the present generation knows nothing of but from history. Owing to the constant exporting of good coin, and the importing of bad, the circulating medium of the country was in a wretched state. There seems to have been a regular system for coining base placks and lions (otherwise called hardheads) in the Low Countries, to be introduced by merchants into Scotland. The Regent, in a proclamation, described the abundance of debased money as the chief cause of the present dearth, the possessors of grain being thus induced to withhold it from market. For this reason, according to his own account, proceeding upon an act of the convention now sitting, he ordained the old coin to be brought to the cunyie-house, where it would be ‘clippit, and put in ane close lockit coffer upon the count and inventar of the quantity receivit frae every person;’ and meanwhile the lately issued genuine placks and lions were to have currency at twopence and a penny apiece respectively—that is, at denominations above their value. Any one hereafter possessing the false coin, was to be punished as an out-putter of false money.

‘Every day after this proclamation, induring the convention, the poor veriit and banned the Regent and haill lords openly in their presence, whenever they passed or repassed frae the Abbey, whilk was heavy and lamentable to hear.’—D. O.

The Regent, while thus an oppressor of his people by attempting to enhance the value of the coin, was engaged in several sumptuous undertakings. He was restoring the Castle of Edinburgh at a vast expense, and also erecting a new mint—putting over its door, by the way, a prayer which he had at this time much need to use—


His own personal extravagances were not less remarkable. He erected at Dalkeith a magnificent palace, richly adorned with tapestries and pictures, and fitter for a king than a subject. Here he lived in an appropriate style. All this he did at the expense of his enemies. He kept a fool named Patrick Bonny, who, seeing him one day pestered by a concourse of beggars, advised him to have them all burnt in one fire. ‘What an impious idea!' said the Regent. ‘Not at all,’ replied the jester; ‘if the whole of these poor people were consumed, you would soon make more poor people out of the rich'—Jo. R. B. Hist.

1575, Mar 30
‘There was ane calf calfit at Roslin, with ane heid, four een, three lugs [ears], ane in the middle, and ane on ilk side, twa mouths.'
—Sinclair of Roslin’s MS. additions to Extracta ex Chronicis Scotie.

A number of French Protestants having at this time taken refuge in London in great poverty, there was a collection in Edinburgh for their benefit, one person being commissioned to go ‘through the Lords of Session, advocates, and scribes,’ and another ‘to pass to the deacons and crafts,’ in order to gather their respective contributions.—R. G. K. E.

The General Assembly declared its mind regarding the dress fit for clergymen and their wives. ‘We think all kind of broidering unseemly; all begares of velvet, in gown, hose, or coat, and all superfluous and vain cutting out, steeking with silks, all kind of costly sewing on passments’ all kind of costly sewing, or variant hues in sarks; all kind of light and variant hues in clothing, as red, blue, yellow, and such like, which declare the lightness of the mind; all wearing of rings, bracelets, buttons of silver, gold, or other metal; all kinds of superfluity of cloth in making of hose; all using of plaids in the kirk by readers or ministers, namely in the time of their ministry, or using of their office; all kind of gowning, cutting, doubletting, or breeks of velvet, satin, taffeta, or such like; all silk hats, and hats of divers and light colours.’ It was recommended to the clergy, that ‘their whole habit be of grave colour, as black, russet, sad gray, or sad brown; or serges, worset, chamlet, grogram, lytes worset, or such like. . . . And their wives to be subject to the same order.’

It is rather curious that any such sumptuary regulations should have been required for the Presbyterian ministers, or even their in helpmates, as, according to all accounts, their incomes for the first forty years after the Reformation were wretchedly narrow and irregular. The thirds of the old benefices assigned to them by Queen Mary’s act were far from being well paid. In the pathetic words of a memorial they presented to Mary in 1562, ‘most of them led a beggar’s life.’ They were as ill off under the grasping Morton as at any other time. The proceedings of the General Assembly of 1576 reveal that some were compelled to eke out their miserable stipends by selling ale to their flocks. The question was then formally put: ‘Whether a minister or reader may tap ale, beer, or wine, and keep an open tavern?’ to which it was answered: ‘Ane minister or reader that taps ale or beer or wine, and keeps ane open tavern, sould be exhorted by the commissioners to keep decorum.’—B. U. K

Towards the end of this year, the Regent Morton was at Dumfries, holding justice-courts for the punishment of the Borderers. ‘Many were punished by their purses rather than their lives. Many gentlemen of England came thither to behald the Regent’s court, where there was great provocation made for the running of horses. By chance my Lord Hamilton had there a horse sae weel bridled and sae speedy, that although he was of a meaner stature than other horses that essayit their speed, he overran them all a great way upon Solway Sand; whereby he obtained great praise both of England and Scotland at that time.’—H. K. J.

1576, Mar 27
It was found that in Meggotland, Eskdale-muir, and other parts near the Border, ’where our sovereign lord’s progenitors were wont to have their chief pastime of hunting,’ the deer were now slain with gun; not only by Scotsmen, but by Englishmen whom Scotsmen smuggled in across the Border, and this often at forbidden times; all which was ‘against the commonweal and policy of the realm.’ The Privy Council accordingly took measures to put a stop to these practices.—P.
C. R.

May 1
‘The first day of May, 1576 year; was sae evil, the wind and weet at the west-north-west, with great showers of snaw and sleet, that the like was nocht seen by them that was living, in mony years afore, sae evil.’—Chr. Aber.

The Earl of Huntly died in a sudden and mysterious manner at Strathbogie Castle. Having fallen down in a fit while playing at football, he was carried to bed, where be foamed at the mouth and nostrils, struggled with his hands, and stared wildly, as if he would have spoken, but could never command but one word— ‘Look, look, look.’ He also vomited a good deal of blood. After four hours’ illness, he expired.

‘The Earl of Huntly being dead thus on Saturday at even, Adam [Gordon, his brother] immediately causit bear but [out, outward] the dead corpse to the chalmer of dais [room of state], and causit bear into the chalmer where he had lain, the whole coffers, boxes, or lettrens [desks], that the earl himself had in handling, and had ony gear in keeping in; sic as writs, gold, silver, or golden work, whereof the keys were in ane lettren. The key of that lettren was at his awn bag, whilk Adam took and openit that, and took out the rest of the keys, and made ane inventory upon all the gear he fand within that coffer, or at least on the maist part and special part of that that was within; and when he had ta’en out sic money as to make his awn expenses south, he lockit all the coffers again, and thereafter lockit the chalmer door, and put up the key, and causit lock the outer chalmer door where the dead corpse lay. After they had set candles in the chalmer to burn, and gave the key of that chalmer door to John Hamilton, wha was man having greatest care within that place and credit of the Earl of Huntly in his time—this done, with sic other directions made for waiting on the place, Adam made him ready, and took the post south at 12 hours on the night, as I believe. At ten hours or thereby before noon, on the morn after the earl was dead, there was in ane chalmer together, callit the leather chalmer, . . . fourteen or sixteen men lamenting the death that was so suddenly fallen, every man for his part rehearsing the skaith [damage] that was to come by that death to them. Amangst the whilk there was ane westland man standing upright [with] his back at the fire, wha said the cause was not so hard to nane as [it] was to him, for he was newlings come out of Lochinvar, for some evil turn that he had done that he might not brook his awn country for . . . . he falls flat down on his face to the ground dead. The men pullit him up, cuist up door and window, and gave him air; there could appear no life in him, except he was hot.’ After lying several hours in the fit, ‘he recovered with great sobbing and working with his hands, feet, and body, and he cried, "Cauld, cauld." This lasted till next morning, when he recovered thoroughly.

‘On the morn... Tyesday next after the earl’s death, John Hamilton was gone up to the gallery of the new wark [building] to bring down spicery or some other gear for the kitchen, and had with him ane Mr James Spittal, and ane other man of the place, whose name I have forgotten. This John Hamilton opened ane coffer, taking out something that he needit; he says: "I am very sick," and with that he falls down, crying, "Cauld, cauld." The other twa took him quickly up, cast up the window, and had him up and down the house. At length he said he was very sick; he wald have been in ane bed. Mr James Spittal convoyit him down the stair. When he was there down, he remembered that he had forgotten ane coffer open behind him; he turned again and the said Mr James with him, and when they had come again, they found the third man that was with them fallen dead ower the coffer, and he on his wambe lying ower the coffer. John Hamilton might make no help, by reason he himself was evil at case. Mr James Spittal ran down, and brought up twa or three other men, and carried him down the stair, and no and down the close, but could find no life in him. At length they laid him in ane bed, where within ane while he recovered, with sighing and sobbing, wrestling with hands, feet, and body, and ever as he got ony words betwixt the swooning, he cried, "Cauld, cauld;" and this lasted twelve or thirteen hours; and I trow langer, if he was sae wed waited on as the lave [rest], as he was not, but gave him leave to work him dane, because he was ane simple poor man. All these wrought as the Earl of Huntly did in his dead passions, except they vomited not, nor fumed at the mouth and nostrils.

‘Upon that Tyesday after the deid [death], ane surgeoner of Aberdeen, callit William Urquhart, came to Strathbogie and bowelled the dead corpse, which, after the bowelling, was ta’en out of the chalmer and had into the chapel, where it remaineth to the burial. John Hamilton receivit the key of the chalmer door again when the dead corpse was ta’en out. On Wednesday next after the deid, Patrick Gordon, the earl’s brother, was sitting on ane form next to that chalmer door where that the dead corpse was bowelled; he hears ane great noise and din in that chalmer, whether it was of speech, of graning, or rumbling, I cannot tell. There was sixteen or twenty men in the hall with him; he gars call for John Hamilton, and asks gif there was onybody in that chalmer; the other said: "Nay." He bade him hearken what he heard at the door, wha heard as he did. Then the key was brought him. He commandit John Hamilton to gang in, wha refused; he skipped in himself; John Hamilton followed ane step or twa, and came with speed again to the door for fear. Patrick passed to the inner side of the chalmer, and heard the like noise as he did when he was thereout, but yet could see nothing, for it was even, at the wayganging of the daylight. He came back gain very affrayedly, and out at the door, and show [ed] so mony as bidden in the hall what he had heard, wha assayit to pass to the chalmer, to know what was there; but naue enterit ower the threshold; all came back for fear. This pastime lasted them more nor ane hour. Candles were brought, the chalmer vissied [examined]; nothing there. As soon as they came to the door again, the noise was as great as of before, the candles burning there ben [within]; they said to me that knows it, there is not sae meikle a quick thing as a monse may enter within that chalmer, the doors and windows [being] steekit, it is so close all abont. Judge ye how ghaists and gyrecarlins come in among them. They were ane hour or twa at this bickering, while ane man of the place comes in among them, and said to Patrick: "Fye, for gif he was not tentie [careful], the bruit [report] wald pass through the country that the Earl of Huntly had risen again." Then Patrick called them that had heard it, and commandit that nae sic word should be spoken.’—Ban.

July 18
The work of printing the Bible, undertaken by Arbuthnot and Bassendyne in March of the year preceding, had proved a heavier undertaking than they expected, and had met with ‘impediments.’ They now therefore came with their sureties before the Privy Council, and pleaded for nine months further time to complete the work, obliging themselves, in case of failure, to return the money which had been contributed by the various parishes. This grace was extended to them.

On the 5th January 1576—7, the work of the Bible was still in hand, and we have then a complaint made to the Regent by ‘Salomon Kerknett of Magdeburg, composer of wark of the Bible,’ to the effect that Thomas Bassendyne had refused since the 23d of December by past, to pay him the weekly wages of 49s., agreed upon between them when he was engaged in Flanders. The Regent, finding the complaint just, ordered Bassendyne to pay Kerknett his arrears, and continue paying him at the same rate till the work should be finished.

Six days later, a more serious complaint was made against Bassendyne—namely, by Alexander Arbuthnot, that he would not deliver to Alexander, as he had contracted to do, the printing-house and the Bible, so far as printed, ‘wherethrough the wark lies idle, to the great hurt of the commonweal of the realm.’ The Regent, having heard parties, and being ripely advised by the Lords of the Council, ordered that Bassendyne should deliver the printing-house and Bible to Alexander Arbuthnot before the end of the month.—P.C.R.

Such were the difficulties which stood in the way of the first edition of the Bible printed in Scotland.

It was found necessary to issue an edict to the gold-seekers in Crawford-muir, Roberton, and Henderland, forbidding them to continue selling their gold to merchants for exportation, but to bring all, as was legally due, to the king’s cunyie-house, to be sold there at the accustomed prices, for the use of the state.—P. C. R

‘The whilk summer was right guid weather; but there was weir betwixt my Lord of Argyle and my Lord Athole, and great spoliation made by the men of Lochaber on puir men. God see till that.’

‘All June, July, and August right evil weather... Nae aits shorn in Fortirgall the 23 day of September... All October evil weather; mickle corn unshorn and unled.’—C. F.

Nov 8
The trial of Elizabeth or Bessie Dunlop of Lyne, in Ayrshire, for the alleged crime of witchcraft. Bessie was a married woman, apparently in middle life, and her only offence was giving information, as from a supernatural source, regarding articles which had been stolen, and for the cure of diseases. ‘She herself had nae kind of art nor science sae to do;’ she obtained her information, when she required it, from ‘ane Tom Reid, wha died at Pinkie,’ that is, at the battle fought there twenty-nine years before. Her intercourse with a deceased person seems to have given herself little surprise, and she spoke of it with much coolness.

Being asked, ‘what kind of man this Tom Reid was, [she] declairit, he was ane honest, wed, elderly man, gray-beardit, and had ane gray coat with Lombard sleeves of the auld fashion; ane pair of gray breeks and white shanks [stockings], gartenit aboon the knee; ane black bonnet on his head, close behind and plain before; with silken laces drawn through the lips thereof; and ane white wand in his hand. Being interrogat how and in what manner of place the said Tom Reid came to her, [she] answerit, as she was ganging betwixt her awn house and the yard of Monkcastle, driving her kye to the pasture, and making heavy sair dule with herself, greeting very fast for her cow that was dead, her husband and child that were lying sick in the land-ill, and she new risen out of gissan [child-bed], the said Tom met her by the way, halsit her [took her round the neck, saluting her], and said: "Gude day, Bessie;" and she said: "God speed you, gudeman." "Sancta Maria," said he, "Bessie, why makes thou sae great dule and sair greeting for ony warldly thing ?" She answerit: "Alas, have I not cause to make great dule? for our gear is traikit [dwindled away], and my husband is on the point of deid, and ane baby of my awn will not live, and myself at ane weak point; have I not gude cause, then, to have ane sair heart?" But Tom said: "Bessie, thou hast crabbit [irritated] God, and askit something you should not have done; and therefore I counsel thee to mend to him, for I tell thee thy bairn shall die, and the sick cow, ere you come hame; thy twa sheep shall die too; but thy husband shall mend, and be as haill and feir as ever he was." And then was I something blyther, frae he tauld me that my gudernan wald mend. Then Tom Reid went away from me in through the yard of Monkcastle; and I thought he gaed in at ane narrower hole of the dyke nor ony eardly man could have gane through; and sae I was something fleyit [frightened].’

The third time that Tom and Bessie met, ‘he appeared to her as she was ganging betwixt her awn house and the Thorn of Damustarnock, where he tarriet ane gude while with her, and speerit [inquired] at her, "Gif she wald not trow in him?" She said: "She wald trow in onybody did her gude." And Tom promisit her baith gear, horses, and kye, and other graith, gif she wald deny her christendom and the faith she took at the font-stane. Whereunto she answerit: "That gif she should be riven at horse-tails, she should never do that," but promisit to be leal and true to him in ony thing she could do.

‘. . . . The feird [fourth] time, he appearit in her awn house to her, about the 12 hour of the day, where there was sitting three tailors and her awn gudeman . . . . he took her apron and led her to the door with him, and she followit, and gaed up with him to the kiln-end, where he forbade her to speak or fear ony thing she heard or saw . . . . when they had gane ane little piece forward, she saw twelve persons, aucht women and four men: the men were clad in gentlemen’s claithing, and the women had all plaids round about them, and were very seemly-like to see. And Tom was with them. Demandit if she knew any of them, answerit: "Nane, except Tom." Demandit what they said to her, answerit: They bade her sit down, and said, "Welcome, Bessie; will thou go with us?" But she answerit not, because Tom had forbidden her.

And further declairit, that she knew not what purpose they had amongst them; only she saw their lips move; and within a short space, they partit all away; and ane hideous ugly sough of wind followit them; and she lay sick till Tom came back again frae them. .. . Being demandit gif she speerit at Tom what persons they were, answerit: "That they were the gude wights that winnit in the court of Elfame, wha came there to desire her to go with them." And further, Tom desirit her to do the same; wha answerit: "She saw nae profit to gang thae kind of gaits [to go such ways], unless she keud wherefore." Tom said: "Sees thou not me, baith meatworth, claith-worth, and gude eneuch like in person? and [he] should make her far better nor ever she was," She answerit: "That she dwelt with her awn husband and bairns, and could not leave them." And sae Tom began to be very crabbit with her, and said: "Gif sae she thought, she wald get little gude of him."

Bessie from time to time consulted her ghostly friend about cases of sickness for which her skill was required. ‘Tom gave out of his awn hand, ane thing like the root of ane beet, and bade her either seethe or make ane saw [salve] of it, or else dry it, and make powder of it, and give it to sick persons, and they should mend She mendit John Jack’s bairn, and Wilson’s of the town, and her gudeman’s sister’s cow The Lady Johnston, elder, sent to her ane servant to help ane young gentlewoman, her doughter, now married on the young Laird of Stanley, and I thereupou askit counsel of Tom. He said to me, "that her sickness was ane cauld blude that gaed about her heart, that causit her to dwalm [faint]" . . . . and Tom bade her take ane part of ginger, clows, anniseeds, liquorice, and some stark [strong] ale, and seethe them together, and share it, and put it in ane vessel, and take ane little quantity of it in ane niutchkin can, and some white suckar casten amang it; take and drink thereof ilk day, in the morning; gang ane while after, before meat; and she wald be haul Demandit what she gat for her doing, declairit "ane peck of meal and some cheese."... Interrogate, gif she could tell of ony thing that was away, or ony thing that was to come, [she] answerit, that she could do naething of herself, but as Tom tauld her . . . . mony folks in the country [came to her] to get wit of gear stolen frae them. . The Lady Thirdpart in the barony of Renfrew sent to her and speerit at her, wha was it that had stolen frae her twa horus of gold, and ane crown of the sun, out of her purse? Aud after she had spoken with Tom, within twenty days, she sent her word wha had them; and she gat them again..... Being demandit of William Kyle, burgess in Irvine, as he was coming out of Dumbarton, wha was the stealer of Hugh Scott’s cloak, ane burgess of the same town? Tom answerit: That the cloak wald not be gotten, because it was ta’en away by Mally Boyd, dweller in the same town, and was put out of the fashion of ane cloak in [to] ane kirtle,"’ &c.

Bessie, being asked how she knew that her visitor was Tom Reid who had died at Pinkie, answered: ‘That she never knew him when he was in life, but that she should not doubt that it was he bade her gang to Tom Reid his son, now officer in his place to the Laird of Blair, and to certain others his kinsmen and friends there, whom he named, and bade them restore certain goods and mend other offences that they had done.... Interrogate gif Tom, at his awn hand, had sent her to ony person to shaw them things to come, declarit that he sent her to nae creature in middle-eard but to William Blair of the Strand, and his eldest dochter, wha was contractit and shortly to be married with Crawford, young Laird of Baidland, and declare unto them, "That gif she married that man she should either die ane shameful death, slay herself or gae red-wod [mad] ;" whereby the said marriage was stayit, and the laird foresaid married her youngest sister.’

Bessie denied any further advances on Tom’s part than his taking her once by the apron, and asking her to go with him to Elfame, that is, Fairyland. He used to come chiefly to her at noon. She had seen him walking among the people in the kirkyard of Dalry; also once in the High Street of Edinburgh, on a market-day, where he laughed to her. Having once ridden with her husband to Leith to bring home meal—’ ganging afield to tether her horse at Restalrig Loch, there came ane company of riders bye, that made sic ane din as heaven and eard had gane together; and incontinent they rade into the loch, with mony hideous rumble. Tom tauld it was the gude wights that were riding in middle-eard.’

Being found guilty of the sorcery and other evil arts laid to her charge, Bessie Dunlop was consigned to the flames.—Pit

The modern student of insanity can have no difficulty with this case: it is simply one of hallucination, the consequence of diseased conditions.

The family of Innes of that ilk, seated in their fine old castle on the coast of Moray, near Elgin, was one of prime importance in the country. The present laird, Alexander, ‘though gallant, had something of particularity in his temper, was proud and positive in his deportment, and had his lawsuits with several of his friends; amongst the rest with Innes of Peithock, which had brought them both to Edinburgh in the year 1576, as I take it; where the laird having met his kinsman at the Cross, fell in words with him for daring to give him a citation, and in choler either stabbed the gentleman with a dagger, or pistolled him (for it is variously reported). When he had done, his stomach would not let him fly, but he walked up and down upon the spot, as if he had done nothing that could be quarrelled (his friend’s life being but a thing that he could dispose of without being bound to account for it to any other); and there stayed until the Earl of Morton, who was Regent, sent a guard and carried him away to the Castle.

‘When he found truly the danger of his circumstances, and that his proud rash action behoved to cost him his life, he was then free to redeem that at any rate; and made an agreement for a remission with the Regent, at the price of the barony of Kilmalemnock, which this day extends to twenty-four thousand merks rent yearly.

‘The evening after the agreement was made, and writ given, being merry with his friends at a collation, and talking anent the dearness of the ransom the Regent had made him pay for his life, he vaunted that, had he his foot once loose, he would fain see what Earl of Morton durst come and possess his lands; which being told to the Regent that night, he resolved to play sure game with him; and therefore, though what he spoke was in drink, the very next day he put the sentence in execution against him by causing his head to be struck off in the Castle, and then possessed the estate.’—Hist. Acc. Fam. Innes.

This is a traditionary tale, perhaps true in the main facts; but there is reason to believe that it is to some extent misreported. On the 8th of January 1575—6, Robert Innes, of Innermarky, and James Adamson, burgess of Edinburgh, gave security to the extent of a thousand pounds, that Alexander Innes of that Ilk, being relieved from ward in Edinburgh Castle, should not go beyond the bounds of the town.

On the 18th of February, this surety was discharged by the Regent in council, in other that the laird might ‘do his utter and exact diligence for apprehending of John Innes in Garmouth, callit the Sweet Man; Thomas Innes, callit the Little; John Adam, callit Meat and Rest; and John Innes, callit the Noble; and bringing them before the justice to be punished for the slauchter of umwhile David Mawer of the Loch;’ which duty he had undertaken to perform before the 1st of August next, under pain of a thousand pounds—P. C. R.

It is of course not impossible that after these events the laird was treated in the manner described by the family memoirs.

1576-7, Feb 14
The Regent, seeing the present abundance of corns in the country, and considering how in bypast times of dearth the people of Scotland had ‘received large help and support of victuals out of the easter seas, France, Flanders, and England,’ thought it proper that ‘the like favour and guid neighbourheid, charity and amity, should be extendit towards the people of the said countries in this present year, when it has pleasit God to visie them with the like dearth and scarcity.’ This was the more proper, in as far as ‘the farmers sould be greatly interested, gif they were constrainit to sell their corns at the low prices now current,’ seeing that their expenses were now as great as when in other times they were getting double prices. For these and other good reasons (whereof probably not the least was a good douceur from a few corn-merchants, such as Robert Gourlay), the Regent was pleased to arrange for a short suspension of the act of parliament forbidding the export of corn out of the country, taking on himself the power of licensing that operation to a certain modified extent.
—P. C. R.

‘That April, right evil weather; and the May, mickle weet and rain; and June, right evil, weet and wind; and the beir seed right late in all places, while after Sanct Colm’s Day [9th June].’—C.

Nov 13
‘This year, in the winter, appeared a terrible comet, the stern [star, forming the head] whereof was very great, and proceeding from it towards the east a long tail, in appearance of an ell and a half, like to a besom or scourge made of wands all fiery. It raise nightly in the south-west, not above a degree and a half ascending above the horizon, and continued about a sax weeks or twa month, and piece and piece wore away. The greatest effects whereof that out of our country we heard, was a great and mighty battle in Barbaria in Afrie, wherein three kings were slain, with a huge multitude of people. And within the country the chasing away of the Hamiltons, &c.’—
Ja. Mel.

The notices of comets given by our old historical writers and diarists have no scientific value. They are only worthy of notice, as shewing the views entertained regarding comets by early and unenlightened age. ‘the real nature of these strangers of the sky is not yet ascertained; but we have at least come to know some of the laws by which they are governed; above all, we know the great fact, that they are obedient to law. To our ancestors, they appeared in a very different light—as menacing messengers, sent for special reasons, ‘importing change of times and states.’ Some of the views expressed regarding them are sufficiently remarkable to be worthy of preservation.

The comet of 1577 was a very noted one, seen over Europe and Asia, also in Peru, and well observed by Tycho Brahé. Its tail, according to the description of the Danish astronomer, extended over 22 degrees. Such was the real space described by James Melville as an ell and a half! This comet passed its perihelion on the 26th of October in the year mentioned, and was visible, as we see, for a considerable portion of the winter. The date here given for its first appearance in Scotland is from the Aberdeen Chronicle.

The most noted comet at this time recent, was one called in Scotland the Fiery Besorn, which has been set down at various dates by English and Scottish historians, but was undoubtedly identical with that so well known in the history of astronomy as having appeared in 1556. John Knox tells us that it presented itself during the winter which he spent in Scotland before his last return to France—a time when the doctrines of the Reformation stood in the most perilous circumstances in both England and Scotland, and men’s minds were consequently in a state of great excitement. Sir James Balfour speaks of it as having portended change not only in government, but in religion, and Knox takes care to note—’ Soon after, Christian, king of Denmark, died, and war raise betwixt Scotland and England, &c.’ Modern astronomers believe this comet to be the same with one which alarmed Europe in 1264, and Professor Hind is predicting that it must speedily revisit our skies, at the very time when these sheets are passing through the press. It is a curious consideration, that a heavenly body which left the confines of our sphere on its stated journey when Cranmer stood at the stake in Oxford, should next come amongst us when we are busy with such an affair (for example) as the laying of the electric telegraph across the Atlantic.

Dec 18
The Lord Somerville had often importuned the Lords of Session for a hearing in the Inner House [of a cause respecting lands, in which he was engaged against his relation, Somerville of Cambusnethan], but was still postponed by the moyen [means] and interest of the Laird of Cambnsnethan and the Lady. At length he was advised to use this policy, by one who knew the temper and avarice of Morton, then Regent. This gentleman’s advice was, that the Lord Somerville should have his advocates in readiness, and his process in form, against the next day; timely in the morning, that he might not be prevented by other solicitors, he should wait upon the Regent in his own bed-chamber, and inform him that his business was already fully debated and concluded; that only Cambusnethan had given in a petition of new, craving that his business might be heard again in presentid, before their decerniture, which hitherto, notwithstanding of his bill, he had hindered himself; therefore his desire should be that his royal highness’ should be pleased to call his action against Cambusnethan, that so long had been depending before them. And, whatever answer he should receive from the Regent, he desired my Lord Somerville not to be much concerned; but upon his taking leave, he should draw out his purse, and make as though he intended to give the waiting-servants some money, and thereupon slip down his purse with the gold therein, upon the table, and thereafter make quickly down stairs, without taking notice of any cry that might come after him. The Lord Somerville punctually obeyed this gentleman’s direction and advice in all points; for, having advised his business the night before with his advocates, and commanded his agents to have all his papers together against the morrow, for he hoped to bring his business to a close, being prepared, timely the next morning with his principal advocate he was with the Regent, and informed him fully of his affair; he gave a sign to his advocate to remove, as though he had something to speak to the Regent in private; when he observed his advocate to be gone, he takes his leave of the Regent, there being by good-fortune none in the room but themselves, two of the Regent’s pages, and the door-keeper within. It being the custom for noblemen and gentlemen at that time always to keep their money in purses, this the Lord Somerville draws out, as it were to take but a piece of money to give to the door-keeper, and leaves it negligently upon the table. He went quickly down stairs, and took no notice of the Regent’s still crying after him:

"My lord, yon have forgot your purse," but went on still, until he came the length of the outer porch, now the Duke of Hamilton’s lodging, when a gentleman that attended the Regent came up, and told him that it was the Regent’s earnest desire that his lordship would be pleased to return and breakfast with him; which accordingly the Lord Somerville did, knowing weel that his project had taken effect.

‘About ten o’clock, the Regent went to the house, which was the same which is now the Tolbooth Church, in coach. There was none with him but the Lord Boyd and the Lord Somerville. This was the second coach that came to Scotland, the first being brought by Alexander Lord Seaton, when Queen Mary came from France. Cambusnethan, by accident, as the coach passed, was standing at Niddry’s Wynd head, and having inquired who was in it with the Regent, he was answered: "None but the Lord Somerville and the Lord Boyd;" upon which he struck his breast, and said: "This day my cause is lost;" and indeed it proved so; for about eleven hours, the 18th day of December 1577, this action was called and debated until twelve most contentiously by the advocates upon both sides After the debate was closed, the interlocutor passed in my Lord Somerville’s favours. Thus ended that expensive plea betwixt the houses of Cowthally and Cambusnethan, after seven or eight years’ debate, and these lands of Lothian [Drum, Gilmerton, and Goodtrees] returned again to the Lords Somerville when they had been fourscore years complete in the possession of the family of Cambusnethan.’ M. of S.

Although this story was transcribed from family tradition a century after the alleged occurrence, there is too much reason in the monstrous avarice of Morton to believe it near the truth.

The commencement of the lawsuit between Lord Somerville and his cousin forms an equally curious tale. The Laird of Cambusnethan had a second wife, exceedingly ambitious of the advancement of her own children. First and second alike had been favourites of King James V., and women of great beauty. To promote a match for her son with Lord Somerville’s second daughter, Lady Cambusnethan brought a package of family papers to Cowthally, intending to shew that the young man would inherit a large portion of his father’s property.....namely the Mid-Lothian estates. It happened that Mr John Maitland, younger brother of Secretary Lethington was then living in retirement with his kinsman, Lord Somerville; and, the papers being put into his hands, he soon discovered that the lands destined for the young man were recoverable by his lordship. He took a duplicate of one important document, and then the whole were returned to Lady Cambusnethan, who by and by took her leave with a fair answer from Lord Somerville, though in reality he only felt disgust at a proposal which aimed at a severe injury to the heir of her husband’s house.

Lord Somerville and Maitland took the pleasure of hunting that afternoon. ‘During their sport, Mr Maitland takes occasion to inquire at his cousin, if his lordship’s predecessors had ever any interest in Mid-Lothian, and if he knew how they parted with the same. He answered they had; and to the best of his knowledge, the house of Cambusnethan had these among many other lands they received from his great-grandfather, Lord John, who, upon the account of his son of the second marriage, went near to have ruined his family, by reason of the great fortune he left to the son of that marriage. By this answer, Mr Maitland understood that his cousin Lord James was altogether ignorant of the way and manner of the conveyance of Drum, Gilmerton, and Goodtrees from his family to that of Cambusnethan, and therefore, in a drolling way, he asked his cousin what he would bestow upon that person that should put him in a way to recover these lands. My Lord, smiling, said: "Cousin, the bargain should soon be made, if once I saw the man that made the oiler." Whereupon Mr Maitland pulling out the paper, which was the double of King James the Fourth’s gift, delivers it to my lord, saying: "There it is that will effectuate and do that business; and seeing I am the man that has made the discovery, I crave no more but your lordship’s white gelding." Hearing this discourse, and having read the note, Lord Somerville immediately lights from his horse, and taking his consin all in his arms—"Here is not only my gelding, but take this, which in these troublesome times I have still kept upon me, not knowing what might befall, having, as was my duty, sided and taken part with that just interest of my princes which has had but bad success in the world." That which the Lord Somerville gave with the gelding to his cousin was a purse sewed by his mother, Dame Janet Maitland, with silk and silver, containing twenty old pieces of gold; and, indeed, it could not be better bestowed than upon her nephew, a brave gentleman, whose great abilities and personal worth afterward brought him to be the principal officer of state in Scotland.’

The crop of this year must have failed to a lamentable extent, as, immediately after harvest, we hear of ‘exorbitant dearth of victual and penury thereof,’ and the ensuing year was, according to a contemporary diarist, marked by ‘ane great dearth of all kinds of victuals, through all Scotland, that the like was not seen in man’s days afore! According to the latter authority, ‘the meal was sauld for sax shillings the peck, the ale for tenpence the pint, the wine for the best cheap forty pence the pint; fish and flesh was scant and dear.’—Aber. Chron.

In November 1577 two boat-loads of beir were about to sail from Aberdeen harbour for Leith, when the town-council arrested them, and ordained the victual to be sold to the inhabitants of Aberdeen at ‘competent prices.’

According to the usual policy in such cases, the government (April 14, 1578) issued a proclamation commanding the possessors of grain to thrash it out before the 10th of June, under pain of escheating, and that no person should keep more victual than was sufficient to serve him and his family a quarter of a year, the rest to be brought to the market within twenty days. It was also ordered, that no grain should be taken forth of the kingdom, but ‘strangers bringing in victual should be favourably enterteened and thankfully paid.’—Cal. This proclamation, being entirely accordant with the prejudices of the masses, was ‘mickle commendit.’—Moy.

Following the usual rule, the scarcity of 1577 was attended by an epidemic disease. At least, so we think may be inferred from an entry in Marjorebanks’s Annals, under 1580:

‘There was twa years before this time ane great universal sickness through the maist part of Scotland: uncertain what sickness it was, for the doctors could not tell, for there was no remede for it; and the commons called it Cowdothe.’

1578, Mar 17
There was an ancient feud between the families of Glammis and Crawford, but as the present lords were on the same side in politics, it was felt by both as inexpedient that any hostility should take place between them. Moreover, it would have been highly indecent of Lord Glammis, who was chancellor of the kingdom, to allow any demonstration of rancour to come from his side. Neverthless, a fatal collision took place between these two nobles.

About the dusk of a spring day, Lord Glammis was coming down from Stirling Castle to his own house in the town, attended as usual by some of his friends and followers, when, in a narrow lane, he encountered the Earl of Crawford similarly attended. The two nobles bade their respective followers give way to the other; and the order was obeyed by all except the two last, who either wilfully or by accident jostled each other, and then immediately drew their swords and fell a-fighting. A skirmish then took place between the two parties, in the course of which Lord Glammis, whose stature made him overtop the company, was shot through the head with a pistol, and many were hurt on both sides.

‘Lord Glammis was a learned, godly, and wise man. He sent to Beza when the work of policy was in hands, and craved his judgment in some questions of policy; whereupon Beza wrote the book De Triplici Episopatu, Of the threefold bishopric, divine, human, and devilish, and his answers to his questions. Mr Andrew Melville made this epigram upon him after his death:

Ta Leo magne jaces inglorius: ergo, manebunt
Qualia fata canes? qualia fata sues?

Since lowly lies thou, noble lyon fine,
What sail betide, behind? the dogs and swine ?

The respective friends of Glammis and Crawford fell into active hostilities after this event, and Crawford was seized and thrown into prison. Being really free from blame, and befriended by many of the nobility, he was soon liberated, to the great joy of his own people. The general joy diffused by this event exasperated Thomas Lyon, a nephew of the deceased chancellor, insomuch that ‘Crawford all his life was glad to stand in a soldier’s posture.’—Jo. Hist.

Godscroft relates that the slaughter of Lord Glammis, which was committed at five in the afternoon in Stirling, was ‘reported punctually and perfectly in Edinburgh at six, being twenty-four [Scotch] miles distant.’ He perhaps means to insinuate that the deed was premeditated. Under November 1585 will be found another instance of miraculous-looking quickness in the communication of intelligence.

1578, June 13
A Band of Friendship—a sort of modification of the old bonds of manred—was formed by the Earl of Eglintoun, the Earl of Glencairn, Lord Boyd, the respective eldest sons of these nobles, Sir Matthew Campbell of Loudon, and Wallace of Craigie, for the repressing of diverse troubles in the country, and with a view to their greater efficiency in the king’s service. They bound themselves, upon their faith and honours, ‘the holy evangel touched, to tak true, faithful, plain, and aefald part all together, as wed by way of law as deed, pursuit as defence in all actions, causes, quarrels, controversies, and debates, movit or to be movit by or against us... against whatsomever person or persons, the king’s majesty alane excepted.’ It was also concluded ‘that all castles, houses, strengths perteining to us sall be ready and patent to ilk ane of us, as the occasion may require.’ Then came a remarkable clause—’ Gif it sall happen, as God forbid, ony different, slaughter, bluid, or other inconvenient, to fail out amangs us, our friends, servants, or dependers, the same, of whatsomever wecht or quality it sall be of, sall be remitted to the decision and judgment of the remanent of us, wha sall have power to judge and decern thereintill, whase sentence and decreet baith the parties sall bide at, fulfil, and observe without reclamation, and sall be as valid and effectual in all respects, and have as full execution, as the same had been given and pronounced after cognition in the cause, by the Lords of Session, Justice-general of Scotland, or ony other judge ordinar within this realm.’

In the parliament held at this time, Lord Home was restored from the forfeiture passed against his father in consequence of his adherence to the queen’s party. David Home of Godscroft represents this as being mainly brought about by the intervention of Sir George Home of Wedderburn with the Earl of Morton; and according to Godscroft’s narration, it was against the will and judgment of Morton that Wedderburn’s end was gained. The affair stands out in strong illustration of the principle of clanship and kindred as affecting even Lowland bosoms in that age. Morton freely told Wedderburn that ‘he thought it not his best course; "For," said he, "you never got any good of that house, and if it were once taken out of the way, you are next— and it may be you will get small thanks for your pains."

‘Sir George answered, that "the Lord Home was his chief, and he could not see his house ruined. If they were unkind, that would be their own fault. This he thought himself bound to do. And, for his own part, whatsoever their carriage were to him, he would do his duty to them. If his chief should turn him out at the fore door, he would come in again at the back door." "Well," says Morton, "if you be so minded, it shall be so. I can do no more but tell you my opinion." And so [he] consented to do it.’

Sir George Home of Wedderburn was son and succcssor of the Merse gentleman described under 1574, and a sketch of him, drawn by the perhaps partial hand of his brother, David of Godscroft, is well worthy of preservation. He was now twenty-eight years of age; he had been trained to pious habits by his parents, and completed his education at the Regent’s court, in company with the young Earl of Angus. He knew Latin and French thoroughly, had studied logic; and acquired such an extensive knowledge of geography, that, ‘though he had never been out of his own country, he could dispute with any one who had travelled in France or elsewhere. He learned the use of the triangle in measuring heights, without any teaching, or ever having read of it; so that he may be said to have invented it.

‘He was diligent in reading the sacred Scriptures, and not to little purpose. He was assiduous in settling controverted points, and at table, or over a bottle, he either asked other people’s opinions, or freely gave his own. He did read a great deal when his public and private business allowed him. He likewise wrote meditations upon the Revelations, the soul, love of God, &c. He also gave some application to law, and even to physic... As to his body, he was well-proportioned; his countenance was lovely and modest, and his limbs handsome and of great strength. He was polite and unaffected in his manners. He sung after the manner of the court. He likewise sang Psaltery to his own playing on the harp. He also sometimes danced. He was very keen for hare-hunting, and delighted much in hawks, particularly that kind that have a small body and large wings, called marlins. With these he caught both partridges and muirfowl. He was so much given to diversion that he built a hunting-house, which he called Handaxewood, in the hills of Lammermuir, in which he might divert himself in the night-time. He first delighted most in those hawks called falcons; but, wearying of them, he took to the other kind, called tercels, which he used even in his old age.

‘He rode skilfully, and sometimes applied himself to the breaking of the fiercest horses. He was skilful in the bow beyond most men of his time. He was able to endure cold, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and watching.... He was moderate both in his eating and drinking which was in those days scarce any praise, temperance i~ being then frequent, though it is now very rare.’

Being, while at court in his youth, stinted of money by a stepmother, he had to avoid cards and dice, and restrict himself to tennis. He was forced by the same cause to restrain the affection he began to feel for the sister of Angus, who, by and by, was married to Lord Maxwell, ‘not at all agreeable to her own inclinatio , but by the express command of the Regent, who would not neglect this opportunity.’ Having succeeded to his estate, ‘his first care was to restore his family to its ancient splendour and fulness, from which it had fallen by the sordidness of his stepmother. Therefore he always went with a great number of attendants, kept a great family, about eighteen horsemen, each of whom had two horses. He was likewise attended by his vassals in Kimmerghame, which was a village at no great distance. They were about twelve in number, and had generally been made use of by his predecessors in services of this kind. They never took greater care of their fields than of their horse; and never ceased accustoming and perfecting themselves in the use of arms. They seldom employed themselves in the country work, and never made use of their horses for that purpose, and they were so swift and beautiful that they might even have contended with those of their master’s domestics. They were always ready at command on every emergency to be led or sent where he pleased. Thus, he was always guarded with twenty or thirty horsemen, all brave and warlike, in order that he might be more respected. Nor was he mistaken in his opinion; it procured him such great fame and authority both with his friends and others, it so much checked his rival; that they all yielded to him in the beginning, nor ever dared to oppose any of his attempts.

‘Nor did he acquire less glory in the care he took of his sisters, which was crowned with success. The remembrance of the best of mothers, their own goodness and beauty, procured them his love. Chance assisted the care he had, advantageously to dispose of Isobel, the eldest. John Haldane of Gleneagle; who having come to the Earl of Morton, who was then governor, to transact and agree with him about the ward and marriage of his land; Morton answered he had given all right he had to it to Isobel, Wedderburn's sister, and he might go and take her and it together. There were, along with Haldane, his uncles, Richard and Robert, and David Erskine, abbot of Dryburgh. They, without delay, come to Wedderhurn, where they see, converse with, and please the young lady, who had before been known to them by report only; they treat and agree with the brother, and the marriage-day is set. He had resolved that she should be dismissed as honourably as possible. For that purpose, there was a most splendid apparatus and entertainment, which was made up by the bride’s direction, and it greatly added to the fame of her prudence, as few had ever seen so grand and genteel a marriage-feast, and all who were present never failed to give it the greatest commendations.’

Sept 11
An attempt was made by proclamation to raise the value of the coin, thirty-shilling pieces being ordained to pass for 32s 8d., and twenty, ten, and five shilling pieces in proportion, refusal of the coin at the exalted rates being threatened with capital punishment. ‘This was altogether mislikit by the common people, and specially by the inhabitants of Edinburgh.’—.Moy.

1579, Feb 21
‘The whilk day, the lords of secret council has thought meet and expedient that the king’s majesty sould not write to the lords of his hienes’ council and session, in furtherance or hindrance of ony particular persons’ actions and causes in time coming, but suffer them to proceed and do justice in all actions privilegit to be decidit by them, as they sall answer to God and his hienes thereupon.’—P.
C. R.

James was now twelve and a half years old, but nominally in possession of the government. We see that his influence was already sought by individuals, to affect the course of the chief civil tribunal of the country. It will appear a characteristic circumstance, and there are many others to corroborate its general purport. Yet it is but right to remark, as the general impression produced by a perusal of the Privy Council Record, that the decisions given there on matters of right between individuals are, on the whole, marked by an appearance of fairness and impartiality. Oppression from high quarters is frequently denounced; and there are numberless instances of a humane and forbearing spirit towards poor and unfortunate people.

‘The magistrates of [Glasgow], by the earnest dealing of Mr Andrew Melville and other ministers, had condescended to demolish the cathedral, and build with the materials thereof some little churches in other parts, for the ease of the citizens. Divers reasons were given for it—such as, the resort of superstitions people to do their devotion in that place; the huge vastness of the church, and that the voice of a preacher could not be heard by the multitudes that convened to sermon; the more commodious service of the people; and the removing of that idolatrous monument (so they called it) which was of all the cathedrals in the country only left unruined, and in a possibility to be repaired. To do this work, a number of quarriers, masons, and other workmen, was conduced, and the day assigned when it should take beginning. Intimation being made thereof, and the workmen by sound of a drum warned to go unto their work, the crafts of the city in a tumult took arms, swearing with many oaths, that he who did cast down the first stone should be buried under it. Neither could they be pacified till the workmen were discharged by the magistrates. A complaint was hereupon made, and the principals cited before the council for insurrection: where the king, not as then thirteen years of age, taking the protection of the crafts, did allow [sanction] the opposition they had made, and inhibited the ministers (for they were the complainers) to meddle any more in that business, saying, "That too many churches had already been destroyed, and that he would not tolerate more abuses in that kind." ‘—Spot.

John Stewart, Earl of Athole, was one of the more respectable of the Scottish nobility of this age. To Queen Mary—whom he had entertained at a hunt in Glen Tilt in 1564—he proved a faithful friend, till her fatal marriage with Bothwell, when, although a Catholic, he joined those who crowned her son as king. During the regencies, he lived in dignified retirement, till called upon to make an effort to rescue the young king from the thraldom in which he was held by Morton. A temporary fall of Morton in 1577 left Athole chancellor of the kingdom.

He now came to Stirling, to assist in accommodating some quarrels of the friends of the Mar family regarding the custody of the young king and the government of Stirling Castle. ‘Matters being seemingly adjusted, the old Countess of Mar, or the Earl of Morton, in her name, invited the chancellor to an entertainment. While they were drinking hard, somebody conveyed a deadly poison into the chancellor’s glass.’ April 16th, ‘the chancellor passed forth of Stirling to Kincardine, very sick and ill at ease, and upon the 24th day deceased there.’ His friends, thinking he had got foul play, sent to Edinburgh for surgeons to open the body; and though these men of skill declared upon oath that they found no trace of poison or mark of violence done to the deceased, the widow and eldest son entered a protest that this should not prejudge the criminal process which they intended before the Justice-general. ‘Some blamed the old Countess of Mar for it; others suspected the Earl of Morton at the bottom of it.’ Both suspicions were probably groundless; it may even be doubted if the earl was poisoned at all. When under sentence of death some years after, Morton solemnly denied the crime imputed to him, and said in no circumstances would he have injured a hair of Athole’s head.

‘Upon the sevent of July, the corpse of the Earl of Athole being convoyit to Dunblane, was carried forth thereof the direct way to Dunfermline, where they remained that night. Upon the morn, they passed forth to Edinburgh, where a great number of friends were convenit to the burial. Upon the tenth day, [the body of the earl] was hononrably convoyit with his friends from Haliroodhouse to St Giles’ Kirk, where he was buried on the east side of the altar on the south side of the church.’ Owing to the general belief as to the mode of the earl’s death, his funeral brought forth strong marks of public feeling. It appears that, before it took place, there was a rumour that the relatives of the deceased designed that it should be attended with sundry superstitious rites, as ‘a white cross in the mortclaith, lang gowns with stroups, and torches.’ A deputation from the General Assembly came to inquire, and were asked to satisfy themselves by inspecting the preparations. ‘The kirk thought the cross and the stroups superstitious and ethnic-like, and desirit them to remove the same! It was accordingly arranged to cover the cross with black velvet and to remove the stroups.—B. U. K

There was at this time a collection of money in Aberdeen and other parts of Scotland, for the support and relief of the ‘Scottismen prisoners in Argier in Affrik, and other parts within the Turk's bounds.’ One Andro Cook engaged himself to dispose of this money as intended, and to deliver the surplus, ‘gif ony,’ to the royal treasurer, to be used as his majesty might think fit.—Ab. C. R., P. C. R.

This collection did not go on briskly, or come to any important effect. On the 26th of October 1583, nothing had been done beyond the collecting of £562, exclusive of what had been bestowed in expenses. Cook was dead, but his son had this sum in his hands, and was desirous of rendering it up under proper authority. It was found, however that the unhappy captives at Algiers were removed from all earthly hardships, so that it was desirable to devote the money to some other object. By the king it was ordained in council that the sum resting with Cook’s son should be paid to the procurators of David Hume, shipper in Leith, who was now lying captive at Bordeaux.

Aug 12
‘Twa poets of Edinburgh, remarking some of his [the Earl of Morton’s] sinistrons dealing, did publish the same to the people by a famous libel written against him; and Morton, hearing of this, causit the men to be brought to Stirling, where they were convict for slandering ane of the king’s councillors, and were there baith hangit. The names of the men were William Turnbull, school-master in Edinburgh, and William Scott, notar. They were baith weel beloved of the common people for their common offices.’—
H. K. J. ‘Which was thought a precedent, never one being hanged for the like before; and in the meantime, at the scattering of the people, there were ten or twelve despiteful letters and infamous libels in prose, found, as if they had been lost among the people, tending to the reproach of the Earl of Morton and his predecessors.’—Moy. R.

At the fall of Morton, less than two years after, when he was taken prisoner and conducted to Edinburgh Castle—’as he passed the Butter Tron, a woman who had her husband put to death at Stirling for a ballad entitled Daff and dow nothing, sitting down on her bare knees, poured out many imprecations upon him.’—Cal.

Aug 17
During the night following this day, ‘there blew sic ane tempest at the herring drave of Dunbar, that threescore fisher-boats and three hundred men perished.’

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