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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of James VI. 1603 - 1625 Part B

1606, Sep 4
The Chancellor Dunfermline intimated to the king the pitiful case of the inhabitants of Dumbarton, their town being unable to defend themselves against ‘the surges and inundations of the sea, which is likely to destroy and tak away their haul town, and cannot be repulsit by nae moyen their poor ability and fortunes are able to furnish.’ Those who were appointed to inquire into the matter now reported that it would require at least thirty thousand pounds Scots to make a proper bulwark. It was proposed to defray this charge by a tax on the country.

‘George, Earl of Dunbar, his majesty’s commissioner for ordering the Borders, took such a course with the broken men and somers [there], that, in two justiciary-courts halden by him, he condemned and caused hang above a hundred and forty of the nimblest and most powerful thieves in all the Borders... and fully reduced the other inhabitants there to the obedience of his majesty’s laws.’
—Bal. The chancellor told the king next month that the Borders were now ‘satled, far by onything that ever has been done there before.’

It was declared a few months later (November 20), that one of the principal difficulties experienced by the emissaries of government in executing justice on the Borders lay in the strength of the houses in which the ‘thieves and limmers’ dwelt or took refuge, and particularly the ‘iron yetts’ with which these houses were furnished. The Privy Council therefore ordained that all iron yetts in houses belonging to persons below the rank of barons, should be ‘removit and turnit in plew irons or sic other necessar wark as to the awners sall seem expedient.’—P. C. R.

These iron gates, of which many specimens still survive in ancient country-houses in Scotland, are composed grill-wise, the bars curiously interlacing with each other, and generally with huge staples and padlocks. Such a gate, made in 1568 for Kilravock Castle, Nainshire, by George Robertson, smith in Elgin, weighed thirty-four stone three pounds, and cost ‘£34, 3s. 9d. usual money, together with three bolls meal, ane stane butter, and ane stane cheese.’

Nov 7
The six clergymen who had been tried for treason, on account of their refusal to break up the General Assembly at Aberdeen, and who had been condemned to banishment, were sent forth of the kingdom at Leith, after a long confinement in Blackness Castle. The punishment, it may be remarked, would have been remitted if they would have acknowledged their alleged offence and come in the king’s will.

‘The 6 of November, about four afternoon, they were desired to come to the boat whilk was prepared for them by the water-bailie of Leith and Edinburgh; who, obeying, came, accompanied with some of their dearest friends and wives, to the pier, where there was a good number of people waiting on, to tak the guid-night at them, and to see them; but after their coming thither, Mr John Welch conceived a prayer, whilk bred great motion in the hearts of all the hearers. Prayers ended, they took guid-night of their friends, wives, and many other weel-wishers who were present, [and] entered into the boat, where they remained a guid space waiting on the skipper.’ The skipper not being ready to weigh that night, ‘they were desired by the water-bailie either to go aboard and lie in the ship that night, or else to go to their lodging, and be ready at the next call.

‘They, by God’s special providence, chused to go to their lodging; for that night came on a great storm, [so] that the ship was forced to save herself in Kinghorn road all that night. They were called again by two hours in the morning, who, obeying, came to the shore and pier, accompanied as the night before, no small concourse of people being with them, beyond expectation, so early to see them boat. Prayer conceived as before by Mr John Welch, they embarked, giving many exhortations to all to hold fast the truth of the doctrine whilk they had delivered; for the whilk they doubted nothing to lay down their lives, let be to suffer banishment; adding thereto, that whilk they suffered was the great joy of their conscience. In the meantime, the mariners hasted them away . . . . they departed out of our sight, making us hear the comfortable joy whilk they had in God, in singing a psalm."

While Protestant clergymen of the puritan type were thus suffering, and evoking by their fortitude the deserved sympathy and admiration of large masses of their countrymen, they were so far from being alone in martyrdom, that suffering was inflicted upon another class of religionists, if not at their dictation, at least with their full approval. The Earl of Angus, one of the three Catholic lords whose correspondence with Spain caused so much trouble sixteen years before, had since lived at home in quietness and obedience. It was not many months after the embarkation of the six Presbyterian ministers at Leith, that we find his lordship pleading that, to avoid imprisonment for his religion, he might be allowed to go into exile—thus calling for the punishment inflicted upon the six clergymen, as a kind of relief from the more severe penalties demanded against him by the party to which these clergymen belonged. In a letter to the king, August 10, 1608, adverting to the fact of the General Assembly having given forth an act for his immediate excommunication, he says: ‘What grief and sorrow this brings to my heart, God knows; because my greatest care has ever been, and sall be, that I might end my days (whilk, I am persuaded, will not be many) at peace with God, and in your majesty’s obedience The permission whilk of grace only I crave (gif it please not your hieness to ease me with a better) is either to depart this country . . . . with surety not to return, or else that it wald please your majesty to confine me in ane of mine awn houses, and so mony miles about the same, where I am glad to live as ane private subject, and never to meddle me with public affairs, but by your majesty’s direction.’

The earl was compelled to leave his country, and he died at Paris three years after, aged fifty-seven. In his epitaph, he is made to say—’jussus, religionis causậ, patriâ excedere aut in custodiam pergere, vitæ quietiori turbinibus averruncandis delegeram Galliam, caram alteram Scotis patriam.’

The utter unconsciousness of the persecuted Presbyterians of there being any harm in visiting the papists with the like severities might almost provoke a smile. While the six ministers lay in expectation of banishment, their brethren detained in England received a visit from Law, Bishop of Orkney. The conversation turned on the present state of the church in Scotland, and the bishop endeavoured to convince them that the royal policy was right, as the same Linlithgow convention which had condemned the six recusant ministers had ‘taken strait order with the papists.’ Seeing they appeared to have no great faith in that demonstration, the bishop endeavoured to reassure them. ‘They shall call me a false knave,’ said he, ‘and never to be believed again, if the papists be not sae handled as they never were in Scotland."

Dec 23
The Privy Council had some time ago issued a proclamation,
forbidding what was called the backing of pairties to the bar— that is, each party in a lawsuit coming into court with a number of friends and favourers behind him, with a view to exercising some influence over the course of justice. Finding that the former denouncement of ‘this indecent and unseemly custom’ had not been attended with any effect, partly through the public being unacquainted with it, and partly through the negligence of the officers of the law, the Council now renewed their proclamation, with assurance that their orders would in future be strictly acted upon. The reader will find that the practice continued in force some years later.—P. C. R.

1607, Jan 20
At this time, Gordon of Gight, Forbes of Corsindae, and some others, formed themselves into what they called the
SOCIETY OF THE BOYS—much after the manner perhaps of the White Boys of Ireland, in more recent times. They bound themselves by oath to consider all quarrels as common amongst them, and are accused of having committed ‘open and avowed reifs, herships, and other enormities, in all parts where they be maisters and commanders.’ All this appears from a letter of the Privy Council, of date January 20, 1607, to the Marquis of Huntly, commanding him to take order for their suppression, ‘as your lordship wald eschew that hard censure and construction which his majesty maun mak of your behaviour in this point?

It will be remembered that Gight was a Catholic, and the probability is that this fraternity of the Boys was simply a desperate effort on his part and that of his co-religionists to repel, as far as they could, the persecutions to which they were subjected.

However this might be, we soon after (April 2) find the Council engaged in trying to bring George Gordon of Gight to justice for sundry popish practices of which he was alleged to have been guilty. It was charged against him that, at the burial of his mother, Isobel Ochterlony, on a particular day in the year 1604, he had caused his tenant, David Wilson, to ‘carry ane crucifix upon ane speir immediately before the corpse;’ in like manner, at the burial of the late William Gordon of Gight in 1605, he had caused George Crawford, his servant, to ‘bear ane crucifix upon ane speir the haill way before the body;’ he being personally present on both occasions: ‘whereby, as he has offendit God, slanderit his kirk and haly ministry, sae he has committit a very great contempt against his majesty, and has violate his hieness’ laws and acts of parliament.’ The laird and his two dependents having failed to appear on several former occasions, the officers of justice were now directed to go to them, and command them to enter as prisoners in Edinburgh Castle within fifteen days, on pain of rebellion.—P. C. R.

The immediate results of these measures do not appear. Seven years after (February 1614), we learn that the Lairds of Gight and Newton, both Gordon; and both Catholics, were sentenced by the Privy Council to perpetual banishment, and ‘never to set foot in Scotland under pain of death, unless they submit themselves to the orders of the church;’ that is, embrace the Protestant faith as professed in Scotland.

However it was as to their faith, the Gight Gordons are found in their usual place in Aberdeenshire only two years after this time. See under December 1615.

The pest broke out again in Dundee, Perth, and other parts of the country.—Ab.
C. R.

June 2
The Privy Council refer to ‘a very ancient and lovable custom,’ of giving a blue gown, purse, and as many Scotch shillings as agreed with the years of the king’s age, to as many ‘auld puir men’ as likewise agreed with the king’s years; and seeing it to be ‘very necessary and expedient that the said custom should be continuit,’ they give orders accordingly.—P.
C. R.

The ‘auld puir men’ so favoured were called the King’s Bedesmen, and were privileged to go about the country as beggars, notwithstanding any general enactments that might exist against mendicancy. Their blue cloak bore a pewter badge which assured them of this right. They were expected to requite the king’s bounty by their prayers; and, doubtless, as they had such an interest in the increase of his years, their intercessions for his prolonged life must have been sincere. The distribution of their cloaks and purses used to take place on the king’s birthday, at the end of the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, till a time not long gone by.

June 30
A sad account is given of the country of Athole. This province, ‘whilk of auld was maist quiet and peaceable, and inhabit be a number of civil and answerable gentlemen, professed and avowed enemies to thieve; robber; and oppressors,’ is described as having ‘now become very louss and broken,’ ‘ane ordinary resett for the thieves and broken men of the north and south Hielands;’ moreover, a great number of the native people, ‘sic as John Dow M’Gillicallum and his complice;’ shaking off all fear of God and reverence for his majesty and the law; ‘are become maist insolent, committing wild and detestable murder; open reif; privy stouthrie, barbarous houghing and goring of oxen, and other enormities,’ without hinderance or challenge.

The Privy Council ordered the immediate reappointment of a guard or watch for the country, such as was customary. James Gordon of Lesmoir undertook to apprehend John Dow and his brother Allaster; and when many attempts had failed, ‘in end lichtit upon the limmers.’ ‘After a lang and het combat, and the slauchter of four or five of the principals of them, the said Allaster was apprehendit, and John, being very evil hurt, by the darkness of the night escaped.’ Allaster, who had many murders on his head, was brought to Edinburgh, and laid in irons in the Tolbooth, notwithstanding many offers from his friends for his liberation. He was in due time tried and executed.—P. C. R

David, Master of Crawford, was noted as a wicked and lawless man. In the course of his violent proceedings in the district where he possessed influence—Forfarshire—he had slaughtered (October 25, 1605) Sir Walter Lyndsay of Balgavies. This brought out the violent feelings of the young Laird of Edzell, whom we have already seen engaged in matters of blood. Young Edzell and his brother determined to avenge the slaughter of their uncle, Sir Walter, upon the Master of Crawford, who was also their near relation.

July 5
One summer evening, between nine and ten o’clock, the Master of Crawford was walking up the High Street of Edinburgh, accompanied by his uncle, Alexander, Lord Spynie, and Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig. Lord Spynie was a popular character, a favourite courtier of King James, and uncle to both the Master of Crawford and young Edzell. Knowing the revengeful design of the latter person, he had been endeavouring to bring about a peace between him and the Master; but his well-meant efforts were destined only to result in his own death. At this very time young Edzell was lying in wait with eight armed men to attack the Master. The three gentlemen approach, and are in a moment beset by the ambushed party; sword-strokes and pistol-shots are exchanged; the Master and Drumlanrig are severely wounded, and Lord Spynie receives mortal hurt. Young Edzell then withdrew his party.

Drumlanrig recovered from his wounds with difficulty; Lord Spynie died of his in eleven days. Thus the innocent alone suffered from this attempt at ‘wild justice;’ the very kind of event which wild justice is most apt to bring about, and for which it is chiefly to be condemned.

Young Edzell fled, with the dismal pain upon his conscience of having caused the violent death of his own uncle, whom he had ever regarded with affection. To escape justice, he was compelled to retire to the remotest parts of his paternal property in the Braes of Angus. Meanwhile, his father suffered great harassment from the law on his account, and was soon brought down in sorrow to the grave. It cost the son a good estate and ten thousand merks to settle matters ultimately with the heirs of Lord Spynie.’

A tragical event, which now occurred at Dornoch in Sutherland, is related in a characteristic manner by Sir Robert Gordon.

‘About the year 1585, there came into Sutherland one called Mr William Pape, a reasonable good scholar, and of a quick and ready wit. This man was first admitted to be schoolmaster in the town of Dornoch; then he was appointed to be resident minister in that same place; and withal he came to be chanter of Caithness. In progress of time, by his virtue and diligence, he became wealthy, and of good account in the county of Sutherland. His two brethren, Charles and Thomas, perceiving his good success, came also thither out of Ross, where they were born, thinking to settle their fortunes with their elder brother. Thomas Pape was made chancellor of Caithness, and minister at Rogart. Charles Pape was a public notary, and a messenger-at-arms; who, being of an affable and merry conversation, did so behave himself that he procured the love of his master, the Earl of Sutherland, and the good liking of all his countrymen, so that in the end he was made sheriff-clerk of Sutherland. These three brethren married in Sutherland, and anchored their fortunes in that country; but as wealth and prosperity often beget pride, so doth pride bring with it a certain contempt of others. These brethren, dwelling for the most part in Dornoch, being both provident and wealthy, thought by progress of time to purchase and buy the most part of the tenements of that town, and drive the ancient and natural inhabitants from their possessions; which the townsmen in end perceiving, they grudged in their hearts, though they could take no just exceptions thereat, seeing that these brethren did purchase the same with their money; yet they concluded with themselves to utter their hatred and revenge when occasion should serve. So at last, upon a particular quarrel which began between one of these brethren, and one of the inhabitants of the town, their ruin thus followed:

‘Every man being departed from the town of Dornoch unto this convention at Strathullie [to resist an invasion of the Earl of Caithness], except William Moray, a bowyer, and some few others, who were also ready to go away the next morning. Mr William and Mr Thomas Pape, with some others of the ministry, had a meeting at Dornoch concerning some of the church affairs. After they had dissolved their meeting, they went to breakfast to an inn or victualling-house of the town. As they were at breakfast, one John Macphail entered the house and asked some drink for his money, which the mistress of the house refused to give him, thereby to be rid of his company, because she knew him to be a brawling fellow. John Macphail, taking this refusal in evil part, reproved the woman, and spoke somewhat stubbornly to the ministers, who began to excuse her; whereupon Thomas Pape did threaten him, and he again did thrust into Thomas’s arm an arrow with a broad-forked head, which then he held in his hand. So being parted and set asunder at that time, Mr William and his brother Thomas came the same evening into the churchyard, with their swords about them; which John Macphail perceiving, and taking it as a provocation, he went with all diligence and acquainted his nephew, Hutcheon Macphail, and his brother-in-law, William Moray the bowyer, therewith; who being glad to find this occasion whereby to revenge their old grudge against these brethren, they hastened forth, and meeting with them in the churchyard, they fell a quarrelling, and from quarrelling to fighting. Charles Pape had been all that day abroad; and at his return, understanding in what case his brethren were, he came in a preposterous haste to the fatal place of his end and ruin. They fought a little while; in the end, Charles hurt William Moray in the face, and thereupon William Moray killed him. Mr William and Thomas were both extremely wounded by John Macphail and his nephew Hutcheon, and were lying in that place for dead persons, without hope of recovery; but they recovered afterwards beyond expectation. The offenders escaped, because there was none in the town to apprehend them (except such as favoured them), the inhabitants being all gone to the assembly at Strathullie. John Macphail and his nephew Hutcheon have both since ended their days in Holland. William Moray yet lives (reserved, as I should suppose, to a greater judgment). Mr William Pape and his brother Thomas thereupon left the county of Sutherland, and settled themselves in Ross, where Thomas now dwelleth. Mr William died in the town of Nigg, where he was planted minister. Thus did these brethren begin and end in this country; which I have declared at length to shew us thereby that man in full prosperity should never think too much of himself, nor contemn others, upon whom it hath not pleased God to bestow such measure of gifts and benefits.’—G. H. S.

Aug 5
A parliamentary enactment had appointed the 5th of August to be kept as a holiday, on account of the king’s escape from the Gowrie treason. On this occasion, the day was solemnly kept in Edinburgh. The king’s scoll [health} was drunk by the duke his commissioner, and some other noblemen, at the Cross of Edinburgh, which was covered for the greater solemnity. Bacchus was set up, and much wine drunk, and sweetmeats cast about; much vanity and pastime, beside ringing of bells, and setting on of balefires.
The pest brake up soon after.’—Cal

The death of the late Lord Maxwell in the battle of Dryfe’s Sands left a feeling of deadly bitterness in his son’s mind against the name of Johnston. A series of turbulent proceedings, marking the untamable spirit of the young lord, ended in his being warded in the Castle of Edinburgh, where he had for a fellow-prisoner a Hebridean magnate of similar character and history— Sir James M’Connel or Macdonald.

Dec 4
‘Seeing not how he was to be relieved, he devises with Sir James M’Connel and Robert Maxwell of Dinwoodie, what way he and they might escape. So, he calls ane great number of the keepers of the Castle into his chalmer, where he drinks them all fou.’ Pretending to act a sort of play, he asked them for their swords as part of the performance; and having thus armed himself and his two companions, he passed out with them, locking the door behind him. The three passed to the inner gate, where a servant stood in the way, holding the porter in parley. The latter, an old man, tried to make resistance. ‘False knave,’ cried Maxwell, ‘open the yett, or I shall hew thee in blads’ [pieces]. He did strike the man in the arm, and likewise wounded another keeper in the hand. Then he and Sir James ‘passed to the west castle-wall that goes to the West Port of Edinburgh,’ and climbing over it, leaped down, and disappeared amongst the suburbs. Robert Maxwell, however, was locked in and detained. The insular chieftain, who had irons upon him, was seized in an attempt to conceal himself in a dunghill, while Lord Maxwell escaped on a horse which had been kept in readiness for him. ‘The king was very far offended, and made proclamation that nane should reset him under the pain of death.’

‘A vehement frost continued from Martinmas till the 20th of February. The sea froze so far as it ebbed, and sundry went into ships upon ice and played at the chamiare a mile within the sea-mark. Sundry passed over the Forth a mile above Aba and Airth, to the great admiration of aged men, who had never seen the like in their days.’—Cal.

The keenness and duration of this frost was marked by the rare occurrence of a complete freezing of the Thames at London, where accordingly a fair was held upon the ice. In Scotland, rivers and springs were stopped; the young trees were killed, and birds and beasts perished in great numbers. Men, travelling on their affairs, suffered numbness and lassitude to a desperate degree. Their very joints were frozen; and unless they could readily reach a shelter, their danger was very great. In the following spring, the fruit-trees shewed less growth than usual; and in many places the want of singing-birds was remarked.—Jo. Hist.

The Lord Maxwell, being proclaimed traitor after the breaking out of ward in the Castle of Edinburgh, and thereupon driven to great straits, sent to the Laird of Johnston, craved a meeting, pretending he would now be heartily reconciled with him, and not for the fashion, as he was before at the king’s pleasure, because he perceived he did not trouble him now, being an outlaw, as he looked for. They meet at the place appointed, Maxwell and one with him, Johnston and another with him; and Sir Robert Maxwell of Spotts (near cousin to the Lord Maxwell, and brother-in-law to the Laird of Johnston), who was employed by Maxwell to draw on the tryst. They meet on horseback, and salute each other heartily in outward show, and went apart to confer together. While Johnston and Maxwell are conferring apart, Maxwell’s second began to quarrel Johnston’s second, [and] shot a pistolet at him, whereupon he fell. Johnston, hearing the shot, cried "Treason!" and, riding from Maxwell to the two gentlemen, to understand what the matter meant, Maxwell shooteth him behind the back. So Johnston fell, and died of the shot. Soon after, proclamation was made at the Cross of Edinburgh, that none, under pain of death, transport or carry away the Lord Maxwell out of the country, in ship or craer, seeing the king and Council was to take order with him, for the traitorous murdering of the Laird of Johnston and his other offences.’—Cal.

The fact was detested by all honest men, and the gentleman’s misfortune sore lamented; for he was a man full of wisdom and courage, and every way well inclined, and to have been by his too much confidence in this sort treacherously cut off, was a thing most pitiful. Maxwell, ashamed of that he had done, forsook the country, and had his estate forfeited.’—Spot.

Horse-racing was early practised as a popular amusement in Scotland. In 1552, there was an arrangement for an annual horse-race at Haddington, the prize being, as usual, a silver bell. Early in the reign of James VI., there were races at both Peebles and Dumfries. The Peebles race was accustomed to take place on Beltane-day, the 1st of May; it was the chief surviving part of the festivities which had from an early period distinguished the day 1 and place, and which were celebrated in the old poem of Peebles to the Play.

The great difficulty attending such popular festivals arose from the tendency of the people to mark them with bloodshed. Men assembled there from different parts of the country, each having of course his peculiar enmities, and the object of similar enmities in his turn; and when they met and had somewhat inflamed themselves with liquor, it was scarcely avoidable that mutual provocations should be given, leading to conflicts with deadly weapons. So great reason was there now for fearing a sanguinary scene at Peebles, that the Lords of Council thought proper to issue a ~ proclamation forbidding the race to take place.—P. C. R.

[28th April 1608. ‘Forsameikie as the Lords of Secret Council are informit that there is sue horse-race appointit to be at Peblis the   day of May nextocorne, whereunto grit numbers of people of all qualities and ranks, intends to repair, betwixt whom there being quarrels, private grudges, and miscontentment, it is to be feint that at their meeting upon fields, some troubles and incoavenients sall fall out amangs them, to the break of his Majesty’s peace and disquieting of the country without remeed be providit; Therefore the Lords of Secret Council has dischargit, and be the tenor hereof discharges, the said horse-race, and ordains that the same sall be nawise halden nor keepit this year; for whilk purpose ordains letters to be direct, to command, charge, and inhibit all and sundry his Majesty’s lieges and subjects by open proclamation at the mercat-cross of Peblis and other places needful, that nape of them presume nor tak upon them to convene and assemble themselves to the said race this present year, but to suffer that meeting and action to depart and cease, as they and ilk ane of them will answer upon the contrary at their heichest peril,’ &c.]

May 8
This day commenced an unfortunate adventure of the king for obtaining silver in certain mines at Hilderstone in the county of Linlithgow. Some years before, a collier, named Sandy Maund, wandering about the burn-sides in that district, chanced to pick up a stone containing veins of a clear metal, which proved to be silver. A gentleman of Linlithgow, to whom he shewed it, recommended him to go to Leadhills, and submit it to Sir Bevis Bulmer, who was engaged in gold-seeking there. The consequence was, that a search was made at Hilderstone for silver, and, some very hopeful masses of ore being found, a commission was appointed by the king, with the consent of Sir Thomas Hamilton, his majesty’s advocate, the proprietor of the ground, for making a search for silver ore, with a view to trying it at the mint. In January 1608, thirty-eight barrels of ore, weighing in all 20,224 pounds, were won, packed, and sent to the Tower of London. It is said that this ore gave about twenty-four ounces of silver to every hundredweight, while some gave double this quantity. Samuel Atkinson, who was engaged in working the mine, tells that on some days he won as much silver as was worth £100. The shaft, indeed, received the name of God’s Blessing, as expressive of its fertile character. The whole results appearing favourable, the king’s cupidity was excited, and he easily fell into the proposal of his astute councillor, Hamilton, to become the purchaser of God’s Blessing for the sum of £5000, and work it at the public expense. Bulmer, created a knight, was its governor. There were ‘drawers up of metal, drawers up of water, and layers up of water to the pumps under the ground, shedders and washers, washers with the sieve, dressers and washers with the buddle, and washers with the canvas, quarriers, shoolmen,’ and many other workers of different kinds. A mill for melting and fining the metal was established at Leith. Another fining-mill and a stamp-mill, with warehouses, were built on the water running out of Linlithgow loch. Some Brunswick miners were brought to give the benefit of their skill. All, however, was of no avail. From the time of the transference of the mine into royal hands, it did no more good. After a persevering effort of two years and a half, the king gave up the adventure, with a loss of a considerable sum of money.

The same mine was granted, in 1613, to Sir William Alexander, Thomas Foulis, and Paulo Pinto, a Portuguese, to be wrought by them on the condition of their paying a tenth of the refined ore to the crown. What success attended this adventure is not known.

The scene of the mining operations is still traceable in a hollow place to the east of Cairn-apple Hill, four miles south of Linlithgow. A neighbouring excavation for limestone is named from it the Silver-mine Quarry: such is the only local memorial of the affair now existing.

May 31
Margaret Hertsyde had entered the service of the queen in a humble capacity in Scotland, and accompanying her majesty to England, was there considerably advanced, and received from the queen many marks of favour. Enriched with the royal liberality, she returned to her native country as a great lady, attended by her husband, John Buchanan, who had been a servant of the king. The pair attracted an invidious attention by the high airs they gave themselves, affecting by the purchase of land to become persons of quality, appearing in a carriage drawn by white horses, and apparently wholly forgetful of their humble origin. It was therefore with no great regret that the public learned that Margaret was apprehended, on suspicion of having taken jewellery from her royal mistress, to the value of upwards of £400 sterling. The unfortunate woman confessed her guilt to the queen; but on her being brought to trial at Linlithgow, some technical difficulties arose as to how far a person could be considered guilty of theft who had only withheld unaccounted for certain articles of which she had been in trust. A direct conviction could not therefore be recorded. In these circumstances, by an irregularity which marks the character of the age, the king interfered with an order that Margaret Hertsyde be declared infamous and banished to Orkney. She was also adjudged to pay £400 sterling to the commissioner upon her majesty’s dotarial estate of Dunfermline. A grave historian of that day moralises upon the case as a sad example of the mutability of fortune.

In 1619, ‘her doom having been humbly and with great patience embraced and underlain by her, and her behaviour continually sin syne having been very dutiful,’ Margaret so far succeeded in obtaining the king’s grace as to have the reproach of infamy removed—Pit. Jo. Hist.

By slow and safe steps, King James was constantly working for the subjection of Scottish ecclesiastical matters to an episcopal model. At this time, his favourite Scottish minister, the Earl of Dunbar, came down from London, accompanied by two eminent English divines, Dr Abbot (subsequently Archbishop of Canterbury) and Dr Higgins, while a third, named Maxy, came by sea.

On the approach of the earl and his clerical associates, ‘the noblemen, barons, and councillors that were in Edinburgh went out to accompany him into the town. So he entered in Edinburgh with a great train. The chancellor, then provost, the bailies, and many of the citizens, met him at the Nether Bow Port. It was spoken broadly that no small sums of money were sent down with him to be distributed among the ministers and sundry others. The English doctors seemed to have no other direction but to persuade the Scots that there was no substantial difference in religion betwixt the two realms, but only in things indifferent concerning government and ceremonies.’—Cal.

July 5
Dundee is described as suffering under ‘the contagious sickness of the pest, and a great many of the houses are infectit therewith, and greater infection like to ensue in respect of the few number of magistrates within the same, and the little care and regard had of the government thereof, ane of the said magistrates being departit this life, and ane other of them visited with disease and infirmity, and not able to undergo sae great pains and travels in his person and otherwise as is requisite at sae necessar a time.’ For these reasons, the Privy Council appointed three citizens to act as assistant-magistrates.—P.
C. R.

July 13
We hear at this time of one of the last attempts to settle a dispute by regular combat; and it is the more remarkable, as several persons were concerned on each side. On the one part stood ‘the Lord Sinclair, David Seton of Parbroth, and John Sinclair elder and John Sinclair younger, sons to the said Lord Sinclair;’ on the other were George Martin of Cardone and his three sons. A mutual challenge had passed between the parties, ‘with special designation of time, place, form, and manner of the combat,’ and the rencontre would have, to all appearance, taken place, had not some neighbours interfered to prevent it. The parties were summoned before the Privy Council, to answer for their conduct.

Martin and his sons were denounced as rebels for not appearing (July 21).—P. C. R.

The slaughter of Captain James Stewart by Sir James Douglas of Parkhead, in 1596, had not been allowed to pass unnoticed by the Ochiltree family, to which the murdered man belonged. At that time, however, a man of rank was not to be punished as a malefactor in Scotland. His offence was expiated by an assythment, or the king interposed to reconcile the friends of the deceased to the culprit and his friends, as if the affair had been merely an unfortunate quarrel. For years there stood a variance between the Ochiltree Stewarts and the murderer of their relation, and from time to time they had to come under heavy sureties to keep the peace towards each other, Lord Ochiltree and Sir James Douglas (now called Lord Torthorald) in £5000 each; and the brothers and nephews of Stewart in lesser sums. This arrangement had been last renewed on the 30th of May, to endure for a year. All seemed composed—a General Assembly was sitting in Edinburgh—no one seems to have been apprehensive of any immediate quarrel or trouble, when a terrible incident suddenly fell out.

July 14
Lord Torthorald was walking one morning, between six and seven o’clock, in the High Street, below the Cross, unaccompanied by any friend or servant, dreading no harm, when William Stewart, nephew of the man he had slain twelve years before, observing him, was unable to restrain the rancorous feeling of the moment, and pulling out a short sword he carried, stabbed him in the back, so that he fell to the ground and instantly died.

William Stewart escaped, and we hear no more of him. The Privy Council, horror-struck at the outrage, had two meetings on the same day to consider what should be done. At the first, before noon, they ordered that the Earl of Morton, James commendator of Melrose, Sir George and Sir Archibald Douglas, his uncles, — Douglas now of Torthorald, William Douglas, apparent of Drumlanrig, Archibald Douglas of Tofts, and Sir James Dundas of Arniston—all friends of the deceased, and presumably eager to revenge his slaughter—should be confined to their lodgings. Lord Ochiltree, on whom the Douglases might be apt to vent their fury, was likewise commanded to keep within doors. At the second meeting, after noon, they gave an order for the apprehension of the culprit.

There is a remarkable connection of murders recalled by this shocking transaction. Not only do we ascend to Torthorald’s slaughter of Stewart in 1596, and Stewart’s deadly prosecution of Morton to the scaffold in 1581; but William Stewart was the son of the Sir William Stewart who was slain by the Earl of Bothwell in Blackfriars’ Wynd in 1588. This, however, is the last open murder of one gentleman by another which we have to record as taking place on a street in Edinburgh.

Lord Torthorald lies buried under a carved slab in Holyrood Chapel, where the guide reads his name daily to hundreds of visitors, few of whom know what a series of tragic circumstances in old Scottish history lies concentered in the body of him who sleeps below.

The progress of persecution against the Catholics may be traced all through this period by the equal progress of the king’s measures for introducing the episcopal system into the church. A General Assembly, which met at Linlithgow in December 1606, was brought by court influence to give a consent to the principle of permanent moderators for presbyteries—a necessary step to the assumption of entire power over dioceses by the bishops. They sent the act to court, with a petition for fresh securities against the Catholic nobles of the north, and their ladies. James affected to listen to their desires, and promised well, but does not seem to have taken any decisive steps till he found that the act for constant moderators, as interpreted by him, met considerable resistance. He then called another General Assembly, mainly for the purpose of taking ‘strait order’ with the adherents of the proscribed faith.

This reverend body professed to consider the country as in unexampled danger from popery. It is found complaining that Jesuit and seminary priests were allowed to traffic within the land, that papistical books were brought from abroad, and that persons in authority often shewed favour to traffickers and excommunicated papists, ‘such as the abbot of New Abbey and other mass priests, demitted, as is thought, out of ward, not without reward [bribery], and without all warrant of his majesty, and presently tolerated in this country without pursuit.’ Amongst some objects petitioned for from the king, were—that papists of rank be imprisoned, and only Protestants have access to them; that orders be given for down-casting of the Laird of Gight’s chapel, and the house of John Cheyne in Kissilmonth, who receipted all Jesuits and seminary priests; and that order be taken with the pilgrimages—namely, to the Chapel called Ordiquhill, and the Chapel of Grace, and to a well in the bounds of Enzie upon the south aide of Spey.

The most important of their actual measures bore reference to the Marquis of Huntly, and the Earls of Angus and Errol, who were considered as the prime supports of popery in the northern section of the kingdom. Huntly we have seen (June 1597) received formally and publicly into the Presbyterian Church, with all appearances of sincerity on his part, while the truth was that he only gave a lip-obedience in order to save his estates and place in the country, of which otherwise he would have been deprived. The hollowness of his professions was soon after sufficiently apparent, for he built a popish chapel in his house, and he continued, as before, to ‘reset’ priests. The Presbyterian tutors imposed on his family may be presumed to have made little progress in their work, as his children all grew up Catholics. Processes had been raised against him in the church-courts for ‘relapse in popery;’ and though the king had tried to screen him from the vengeance he had incurred, it was ineffectual. It was now necessary for James, if he would make way with his episcopal innovations, that he should give proof of sincerity in Protestantism, by leaving his old friend and councillor to the mercy of the General Assembly.

Accordingly, the business being ripe for instantly proceeding, the moderator—being the same Bishop Law who had promised such a sore ‘handling’ of the Catholics to James Melville and his friends in London (see under November 7, 1606) —pronounced the sentence of excommunication ‘after a very solemn manner;’ while the Earl of Dunbar, the king’s commissioner, promised that, ‘forty days being expired from the pronouncing of the sentence, the civil sword should strike without mercy or favour to him or his; and although some of his friends should come and buy his escheat, it should be refused.’—Cal. Arrangements were made for taking the same measures with Errol and Angus, Dunbar promising the like severity with them.

While the Assembly continued sitting, a gentleman came on behalf of the Marquis of Huntly, pleading for a little extension of time ‘till he had perfyter resolution,’ shewing that he was not opiniatre, as had appeared from his ‘yielding to have conference,’ and from his ‘going to the kirk;’ he entreated to be heard for himself before final condemnation. But the petition was set aside as frivolous, and because he had failed to fulfil his promise given by solemn bond a month ago to communicate before a certain day.—Cal.

Aug 29
The plague broke out in Perth, and continued till the ensuing May, ‘wherein deit young and auld five hundred persons.’—Chron.

Sep 1
It was reported to the Privy Council that a quarrel had arisen between John Napier of Merchiston, and the sons and daughters of the late Sir Archibald Napier of Edinbellie, regarding the right to the teind sheaves of the lands of Merchiston for the crop of the present year. ‘Baith the said parties,’ says the record, ‘intends to convocate their kin, and sic as will do for them in arms, for leading [home-bringing], and withstanding of leading, of the said teinds; whereupon further inconvenients are like to fall out.’ To prevent breach of the peace, William Napier of Wrightshouses, a neutral person, was ordered to collect the teind sheaves of Merchiston, and account to the Council.—P. C. R. ‘Whilk order,’ says John Napier, ‘is guid eneuch for me, and little to their contentment;’ that is, to the contentment of his Edinbellie relatives.

This, it must be owned, is a new light in which to view the inventor of the logarithms. It is, however, worthy of observation, that a dispute between other parties on the same grounds is described in precisely similar terms, and the same arrangement made to preserve the peace.

‘In the beginning of September, the Duke of Wirtemberg, a prince in Germany, a young man of comely behaviour, accompanied with twenty-four in train, came to see the country. He was convoyed from place to place by noblemen, by the king’s direction, and weel enterteened. His train were all clothed in black.’—Cal.

The duke was a great friend and ally of the king, who, soon after his accession, sent Lord Spencer with a splendid ambassage to Stuttgart, to invest his serene highness with the Order of the Garter.

The records of Privy Council are still full of instances of assaults made by men of rank and others with deadly weapons upon persons against whom they bore hatred. It would be wearisome to enumerate even those which occur throughout a single year. It is to be remembered there were famous acts of parliament against going armed defensively or offensively; yet in every case we find the guilty parties set about their vengeful proceedings in steel bonnets, gauntlets, and plait-sleeves, and with swords and pistolets.

As an example—one Gavin Thomson, burgess of Peebles, was held at hatred by Charles Pringle, another burgess; we do not learn for what cause. One day in September 1608, as Gavin was walking in sober and quiet manner along the High Street of the burgh, Charles Pringle, accompanied by nine or ten persons, all armed with lances and whingers, set upon and ‘cruelly hurt and wounded the said Gavin upon the left hand, drave him perforce back, and housit him within the dwelling-place and lock-fast yetts of Isobel Anderson; and were it not by the providence of God, that the Person and Minister of Peebles, accompanied with some others weel-affected persons to the peace of the said town, and knawing the said Gavin his innocency, come forth to the redding, they had not failit, as they hail begun, with great jeists, trees, and fore-hammers, to have surprised and stricken up the yetts and doors of the said dwelling-house, and within the same to have unmercifully slain and murdered the said Gavin.’

For several subsequent months, Pringle and his associates had lain in wait at divers times to kill Gavin, so that he had been prevented from attending kirk or market, or going about the business of his farm. At length, on the 2d of December, as he was walking peaceably on the street, they attacked him again, armed as before. ‘Being informit that he had come furth of his house, they first bostit and menaced him aff the hie street, and he retiring himself hame again in quietness, they all followit and pursewit him with drawn swords,’ when one of the party, Alexander Dalmahoy, ‘by his sword, with ane great stane of aucht pund wecht in his hand, hurt the said Gavin his thie-bone’ The assailants ‘hurt and woundit William Murray of Romanno and divers other gentlemen redders, and in end fiercely pursewit Gavin and housit him within the dwelling-house of the close yetts of William Elliot, and cryit for jeists and fore-hammers, and had not fault to have stricken up the doors and yetts thereof, and to have slain the said Gavin within the same, were not timous relief come at hand.’

The active parties in this wickedness were denounced rebels by the Council.—P. C. R.

William Turnbull of Airdrie lived in Edinburgh, having in his family a daughter, Elizabeth, eleven years of age. He admitted to his house, and often civilly entertained Robert Napier son of William of Wrightshouses—a gentleman who has just been under our notice. On the 4th of October, Turnbull complained to the Privy Council that, on the 29th of September, Robert Napier had by craft and violence taken away his daughter, under cloud of night, and now keeps her in some obscure place, refusing to render and deliver her up to her father. The Council caused Robert Napier to be denounced as a rebel for this fact:

The abduction of women, of which some examples were formerly given, was still an offence of frequent occurrence. On the subsequent 8th of December, there is a complaint before the Council from Margaret Stewart, widow, that as she was walking home from her booth to her dwelling-house in Edinburgh, between seven and eight o’clock in the evening of the 5th of the same month, accompanied by her orphan grandchild, Katherine Weir, fourteen years of age, a young citizen, named William Geddes, had beset her with six men armed like himself with swords, gauntlets, steel bonnets, and plait-sleeves, and violently took the child from her, ‘without pity of her manifold exclamations and crying.’ Geddes was likewise denounced rebel.

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