Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

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

1608, Nov 8
‘There was an earthquake at nine hours at night, sensible enough at St Andrews, Cupar, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, but more sensible at Dumbarton; for there the people were so affrayed, that they ran to the kirk, together with their minister, to cry to God, for they looked presently for destruction. It was thought the extraordinar drouth in the summer and winter before was the cause of it.’—Cal.

At Perth, this earthquake shook the east end of the Tolbooth, insomuch that ‘many stones fell aff it.’—Chron. Perth.

At Aberdeen, where the shock excited great alarm, the kirk-session met, and accepting the earthquake as ‘a document that God is angry against the land, and against this city in particular, for the manifold sins of the people,’ appointed a solemn fast to be held on the ensuing day, and ‘the covenant to be renewed by the haill people with God, by halding up of their hands publicly before God in his sanctuary, and promising by his grace to forbear in time coming from their sins.’ There was one particular sin which was thought to have had a great concern in bringing about the earthquake—namely, the salmon-fishing practised on the Dee on Sunday. Accordingly, the proprietors of the salmon-fishings were called before the session, and rebuked. ‘Some,’ says the session record, ‘promist absolutely to forbear, both by himselfs and their servands in time coming; other promised to forbear, upon the condition subscryvant; and some plainly refusit anyway to forbear.’ [The fishing of salmon in the river Dee on Sunday was a custom of some antiquity, as it had been expressly warranted by a bull of Pope Nicolas V. in 1451. The privilege was limited to the Sundays of those five months of the year in which salmon most abound; and the first salmon taken each Sunday was to belong to the parish church. The bull recites that both by the canon and the common law, the right of prosecuting the herring-fishing on Sunday was conceded to all the faithful.—Reg. Epis. Aber. (Spalding Club).]

Dec 1
‘The Earl of Mar declared to the [Privy] Council that some women were ta’en in Broughton, as witches, and being put to ane assize, and convict, albeit they persevered constant in their denial to the end, yet they were burnt quick [alive], after sic ane cruel manner, that some of them deit in despair, renuncaud and blasphemand, and others, half burnt, brak out of the fire, and was cast in quick in it again, while [till] they were burnt to the deid.’’

1609, Jan 5
'...... the wind did blow so boisterously, that the like was not heard in the memory of man. Houses in burgh and land were thrown down with the violence of it; trees rooted up, corn-stacks and hay-stacks blown away. Some men passing over bridges were driven over violently and killed. The wind continued vehement many days and weeks, even till mid-March, howbeit not in the same measure that it blowed this day.’—Cal.

The book entitled Regiam Majestatem, containing the ancient laws of Scotland, seems to have been printed by a contribution from the burghs. In April this year, we find the magistrates of Glasgow charged to make payment of £100 on this account. In September, the learned author, Sir John Skene, had some difficulty with his printer, Thomas Finlayson, of importance enough to come under the attention of the Privy Council. It was alleged that Thomas, after perfyting the Scottish volume, ‘upon some frivole consait and apprehension of his own, without ony warrant of law or pretence of reason,’ maliciously refused to deliver the volume to Sir John, ‘but shifts and delays him fra time to time with foolish and impertinent excuses, to Sir John’s heavy hurt and prejudice.’ The Lords of Council ordered Thomas to deliver the book to its author within eight days, on pain of being denounced rebel; and ‘whereas there is some little difference and question betwixt the said parties anent their comptis,’ a committee was appointed ‘to sort the same, and put them to ane rest.’—P. C. R.

The severities called for by the General Assembly against the papist nobles and others, had been, to appearance, backed up by the royal power. The Marquis of Huntly was actually in prison at Stirling as an excommunicated rebel. The king probably felt this a high price for the soothing of Presbyterian scruples regarding episcopacy; but it had so far been paid. He contemplated having the observance of Christmas brought in at the end of the year; and it was therefore advisable to shew a little further earnestness in the right direction.

By the activity of Spottiswoode, archbishop of Glasgow, John Hamilton, a zealous trafficking priest, was apprehended—an act the more important that this culprit was uncle to the king’s advocate. Another priest, named Paterson, was taken with all his vestments, while celebrating mass in a house in the Canongate in Edinburgh before an audience of thirty persons. These must, of course, have been gratifying proofs of the royal zeal, albeit Calderwood cannot repress a bitter remark as to the ‘tolerable entertainment’ allowed to the prisoners (the allowance made in another case for an incarcerated priest, and probably in these also, was a merk—1s. 1 1/3d sterling—per diem), while ministers incarcerated for opposition to the king’s episcopal innovations ‘were left to their shifts.’

About the same time, the archbishop went with a party to the town of New Abbey, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, and there broke into the house of Mr Gilbert Brown, former abbot of New Abbey, ‘and having found a great number of popish books, copes, chalices, pictures, images, and such other popish trash, he most worthily and dutifully as became both a prelate and a councillor, on a mercat-day, at a great confluence of people in the hie street of the burgh of Dumfries, did burn all those copes, vestments, and chalices,’ delivering up the books to Maxwell of Kirkconnel, to be afterwards dealt with. The Privy Council (June 13, 1609) allowed this to be good service on the part of the archbishop, and granted him a gift of the books left unburnt.—P. C. R.

In the parliament held a few days after the last date, several acts were passed against popery—one ordaining that pedagogues sent abroad with the sons of noblemen and others, should be duly licensed by a bishop; another that the young persons so sent abroad should remain, at places where ‘the religion’ is professed, and ‘where there is no cruel inquisition;’ a third for confiscating the property of papists to the king’s use; a fourth was meant to deprive Catholics of all benefit from the legal system of the country. The more severe class of Presbyterians looked on, with no inclination to object to these measures, but only with a disbelief in the sincerity of the government which had brought them forward. They had begun to see that it was ‘to grace the bishops, and procure them greater credit and authority in the country,’ that popery was thus dealt with.—Cal.

We have sen that, so lately as September 1606, the Borders were reduced to obedience by a moral medicine of considerable sharpness, administered by the Earl of Dunbar; that is to say, one hundred and forty thieves had been hanged. We now find that the effect was only temporary, for it had become necessary for the earl to go once more to Dumfries to hold a justice-court. On this occasion, he was equally severe with such offenders as were in custody, causing many to be hanged.—Cal. The Chancellor Dunfermline wrote to the king that Lord Dunbar ‘has had special care to repress, baith in the in-country and on the Borders, the insolence of all the proud bangsters, oppressors, and nembroths [Nimrods], but [without] regard or respect to ony of them; has purgit the Borders of all the chiefest malefactors, robbers, and brigands as were wont to reign and triumph there, as clean, and by as great wisdom and policy, as Hercules sometime is written to have purged Augeas, the king of Elide, his escuries; and by the cutting aff. . . . the Laird of Tynwald, Maxwell, sundry Douglases, Johnstons, Jardines, Armstrangs, Beatisons, and sic others, magni nominis luces, in that broken parts, has rendered all those ways and passages betwixt your majesty’s kingdoms of Scotland and England, as free and peaceable, as Phœbus in auld times made free and open the ways to his awn oracle in Delphos, and to his Pythic plays and ceremonies, by the destruction of Phorbas and his Phlegians, all thieves, voleurs, bandsters, and throat-cutters. These parts are now, I can assure your majesty, as lawful, as peaceable, and as quiet, as any part in any civil kingdom of Christianity."

This was too happy a consummation to be quite realised. We find, not long after, a representation going up to the king from the well-disposed people of the Borders, shewing that matters were become as bad as ever. It is a curious document, full of Latin quotations. The thieves, it says, are like the beasts of the field, according to the words of Cicero in his oration for Cluentius; quœ, fame dominante, ad eum locum ubi aliquando pastœ sunt, revertuntur. Lord Dunbar being now gone with his justice-courts, they are returned to their old evil courses, and there is nothing which they will not attempt. ‘Wild incests, adulteries, convocations of lieges, shooting and wearing of hagbuts, pistolets, and lances, daily bloodsheds, oppression, and disobedience in civil matters, neither are nor has been punished . . . .. there is no more account made of going to the horn, than to the ale-house.’ Lord Scone and his guard are of no use, for they favour their friends. ‘If diligent search were made. . .. there would be found ane grit number of idle people, without any calling, industry, or lawful means to live by, except it be upon the blood of the poorest and most obedient sort.’

The final attempt to plant the Lewis took place this year, under the care of only two adventurers, Sir George Hay (subsequently chancellor of Scotland) and Sir James Spens of Wormiston. The Lord of Kintail had in the interval made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a grant of the island.

The two undertakers went to the island with a force which they considered sufficient to meet the opposition of the pertinacious Niel Macleod. ‘The Lord of Kintail did privately and underhand assist Niel Macleod, and sent his brother, Rorie Mackenzie, openly with some men to aid the undertakers by virtue of the king’s commission. He promised great friendship to the adventurers, and sent unto them a supply of victuals in a ship from Ross. In the meantime he sendeth quietly to Niel Macleod, desiring him to take the ship by the way, that the adventurers, trusting to these victuals, and being disappointed, might thereby be constrained to abandon the island, which fell out accordingly; for Sir George Hay and Sir James Spens failing to apprehend Niel, and lacking victuals for their army, they wearied of the bargain, and dismissed all the neighbouring forces. Sir George Hay and Wormiston retired into Fife, leaving some of their men in the island to keep the fort, until they should send unto them supply of men and victuals. Whereupon Niel Macleod, assisted by his nephew . . . . and some other of the Lewis men, invaded the undertakers’ camp, burnt the fort, apprehended the men which were left behind them in the island, and sent them home safely into Fife, since which time they never returned again into the island.’—G. H. S.

The Lord of Kintail afterwards obtained possession of the isle of Lewis, and Niel, thoroughly circumvented by the Clan Kenzie, was driven for refuge with a small company to a fortified rock called Berissay. ‘The Clan Kenzie then gathered together the wives and children of those that were in Berissay, and such as, by way of affinity or consanguinity, within the island, did appertein to Niel and his followers, and placed them all upon a rock within the sea, where they might be heard and seen from Berissay. They vowed and protested that they would suffer the sea to overwhelm them the next flood, if Niel did not presently surrender the fort; which pitiful spectacle did so move Niel Macleod and his company to compassion, that immediately they yielded the rock and left the Lewis; whereupon the women and children were rescued and rendered.’—G. H. S.

This unfortunate insular chief, falling into the hands of his enemies, was taken to Edinburgh, and there executed in April 1613.

1609, Aug
There was a Presbyterian prejudice against burying in churches, and the blame of kirk-burial had not only been a subject for the pamphleteer, but the legislature. Nevertheless, John Schaw of Sornbeg in Ayrshire, on the death of his wife, resolved to inhume her corpse in his parish kirk of Galston, in spite of all the minister and session could say or do to the contrary. Accompanied by his brother and his ‘bailie,’ and attended by a numerous party, ‘all bodin in feir of weir,’ he came to the church, broke up the door with fore-hammers, and dug a grave, in which he deposited his spouse. He was afterwards glad to make public repentance for this fact, and pay twenty pounds to the box-master of the kirk, besides which the Privy Council ordained him to appear again as a penitent, and solemnly promise never again to attempt to bury any corpse within the church.’—P. C. R.

Notwithstanding Lord Ochiltree’s protestations of innocence regarding the assassination of Lord Torthorald, the relatives of the latter continued to bear a deadly grudge at him, and seemed likely to wreak it out in some wild manner. This came to the knowledge of the king, who felt himself called upon to interfere. The Privy Council, in obedience to the royal letters, had the parties summoned before them. William Lord Douglas and James Lord Torthorald appeared before them that day, and undertook, before the 20th of September, that ‘they sall owther pursue the said Lord Ochiltree criminally before his majesty’s justice in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, for airt, part, rede, and counsel, of the slaughter of umwhile Lord Torthorald, or then that they sould reconceil themselves with the said Lord Ochiltree, and be agreit with him.’—P. C. R.

Under favour of the king, a number of strangers had been introduced into the country to practise the making of cloths of various kinds. A colony of them was settled in the Canongate, Edinburgh, headed by one John Sutherland and a Fleming named Joan Van Headen, and ‘are daily exercised in their art of making, dressing, and litting of stuffis, and gives great licht and knowledge of their calling to the country people.’ These industrious and inoffensive men, notwithstanding the letters of the king, investing them with various privileges, were now much molested by the magistrates of the Canongate, with a view to forcing them to become burgesses and freemen there in the regular way. On an appeal to the Privy Council, their exemption was affirmed.

Nov 7
From London, where the pest had long been, a ship had lately come to Leith, and was now lying at the west side of the bulwark there, prepared to discharge her cargo. The case looked the more alarming, as several of the mariners had died of plague during the voyage. The Lords of Council immediately issued orders that the vessel should be taken to Inchkeith, where her cargo should be taken out and handled, cleansed, and dressed, the inhabitants affording all facilities for that purpose, ‘with such houses and other necessaries as are in the said inch.’—P. C. R.

The time was approaching when, in accordance with a recent act, the Egyptians were to depart from Scotland, under pain of being liable thereafter to be killed by any one without challenge of law. In anticipation of this dread time, one of the nation, named Moses Paw, appeared before the authorities of the kingdom, and pleaded for permission to remain under protection of the laws, on the ground that he had wholly withdrawn himself and his family from that infamous society, and was willing to give surety for his future good behaviour. The desired permission was extended to him on that condition.—P. C. R.

Dec 25
Having of late shewn some zeal against popery, King James thought he might now effect one little change essential to episcopacy, without more than enough of outcry from the earnest Presbyterians. By his order, sent by Chancellor Seton, it was arranged that Christmas-day should henceforth be solemnly held in Scotland. The Court of Session accordingly rose for that day, and till the 8th of January ensuing. ‘This,’ says Calderwood, ‘was the first Christmass vacance of the session keepit since the Reformation. The ministers threatened that the men who devised that novelty for their own advancement, might receive at God’s hand their reward to their overthrow, for troubling the people of God with beggarly ceremonies long since abolished with popery. Christmass was not so weel keepit by feasting and abstinence from work in Edinburgh these thretty years before, an evil example to the rest of the country.’

1610, Jan
‘About the end of Januar, the Scotch Secretar, Sir Alexander Hay, came from court with sundry directions, and among the rest, for the habit of the senators of the College of Justice [which the Chancellor had told the king was now, since the departure of the court to England, ‘the special spunk of light and fondament of your majesty’s estate, and only ornament of this land’],advocates, clerks, and scribes; which was proclaimed in the beginning of ,Februar—viz., that the senators should wear a purple robe or gown in judgment and in the streets, when they were to meet or were dissolved; that advocates, clerks, and scribes should wear black gowns in the judgment-hall and in the streets . . . . the provost and bailies of burghs and their councilors should wear black when they sat in council and judgment; that ministers should wear black clothes, and in the pulpit black gowns; that bishops and doctors of divinity should wear black cassikins syde to [long enough to reach] their knee, black gowns above, and a black crape about their neck. On the 15th of Februar, the Lords of the Session and the bishops put on their gowns and came down from the chancellor’s lodging, with their robes, to the Tolbooth [the court-house—a section of St Giles’s Church]. All the robes, except the chancellor’s, were of London cloth, purple coloured, with the fashion of an heckled cloak from the shoulders to the middle, with a long syde hood on the back, the gown and hood lined with red sattin. The people flocked together to behold them. The bishops were ordeened to have their gowns with lumbard sleeves, according to the form of England, with tippets and crapes about their craigs [necks]; which was performed.’—Cal.

On the 20th of June, the lord provost of Edinburgh exhibited in his council ‘twa gowns, the ane red, the other black claith limit in the breists with sable furring, sent to his lordship by the king’s majesty for to be worn by him, and to be patterns of the gowns to be worn by the provost and baffles, and sic of the council and town as are appointed thereto by his majesty.’

Feb 27
Alexander Kirkpatrick, younger of Closeburn, being in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh for the slaughter of James Carmichael, son to John Carmichael of Spothe, the Lady Amisfield, wife of a neighbour, came to the prison, and entered into conference with the keeper in his private apartments. At her persuasion, the man allowed ‘Young Closeburn’ to come to speak with her; and she then executed her design of exchanging clothes with him, and so allowing him to escape. The lady was warded in the Castle; but what ultimately became of her does not appear.—Pit.

A General Assembly was held at Glasgow, so constituted and managed by royal authority that the king at length accomplished one grand portion of his ecclesiastical scheme for Scotland, in being acknowledged as the head of the kirk. Three English divines, chaplains to the king, Dr Christopher Hampton, Dr Phineas Hodson, and Dr George Meriton, were present to use their influence in reconciling the country to ‘a more comely and peaceable government in our kirk than was presently.’ But for the absence of the six banished ministers, and the confinement of zealous, fiery, fearless Andrew Melville in the Tower, it might not have been possible to carry this measure. The Presbyterian historians also insinuate that bribes were used with the members, whence they take leave to call it the Golden Assembly.

‘Immediately after this, the Bishops of Glasgow and Brechin took journey to court, to report what was done, and got great thanks frae the king. Galloway followed, who all three abode there till the month of November, at what time . . . . by a special commission from the king to the Bishop of London to that effect, the Archbishop of Glasgow and the other two were solemnly ordained, inaugurat, and consecrated, with anointing of oil and other ceremonies, according to the English fashion.’ [The ceremony, which took place in the chapel at London House, was celebrated by a banquet, at which ‘gifts were bestowed, and gloves were distributed, in token of the solemnisation of the marriage between the bishops and their kirks.’—Cal.] The three new prelates, ‘thereafter [January 23, 1611] returning to Scotland, did to the Archbishop of St Andrews, in St Andrews, as they were done withal at Lambeth, as near as they could possibly imitate; and thereafter the two archbishops consecrated the rest, and the new entrant bishops as they were nominat by the king . . . . first quietly, as being ashamed of the foolish guises in it, but afterward more and more solemnly, as their estate grew.’—Row. ‘All of them [the whole thirteen] deserted their flocks, and usurped thereafter jurisdiction over the ministers and people of their dioceses.’—Cal.

At the same time the king established in Scotland a court of High Commission, by which the new hierarchy acquired great power over the people.

‘The king was so earnest upon the creating of bishops, that he cared not what it cost him... .. In buying in their benefices out 1610 of the hands of the noblemen that had them, in buying votes at Assemblies, in defraying of all their other charges, and promoving of all their adoes and business, as coming to, and going from, and living at court prelate-like; that is, sumptuously and gorgeously in apparel, house, diet, attendants, etc., [he] did employ (by the confession of such as were best acquainted with, and were actors in, these businesses) above the sum of £300,000 sterling money, one huge thing indeed; but sin lying heavy on the throne, crying aloud for wrath on him and his posterity, is infinitely sadder nor £300,000 sterling ! ‘—Row.

The Marquis of Huntly, and other papists of rank, had meanwhile been suffering considerably in order to dispose the Presbyterian opposition to yield to the king’s wishes. But now there was no longer any immediate occasion for severity. The marquis, professing to be once more thoroughly Protestant, was relieved from excommunication, and allowed to return to his palace in the north. With Errol there was greater difficulty. The king, through the Earl of Dunbar, had promised that he should lose his lands. He had, what Huntly happily wanted, a painfully tender conscience. One day, he was brought to promise that he would subscribe; but that very night he fell into such a trouble of mind as to have been on the point of killing himself. ‘Early next morning, the Archbishop of Glasgow being called, he confessed his dissimulation with many tears, and; beseeching them that were present to bear witness of his remorse, was hardly brought to any settling all that day.’ By some treacherous excuse, lenity was extended to Errol also. Such was the way in which the king performed his engagements on this solemn subject. ‘The turn being done,’ says Calderwood, ‘promises were not keepit.’

July 3
An act was passed by the Privy Council in favour of Anthony Aurego, Anthony Soubouga, and Fabiano Fantone, allowing them to live in the country, and practise their ‘trade and industry of making hecks and other machines for taking of rottons and mice.’—P. C. R.

July 27
Piracy was at this time a flourishing trade, and the Scottish and Irish seas were a favourite walk of its practitioners. Vessels of various countries besides Scotland, were pursued by these marauders and mercilessly plundered, their crews seized, tortured, and sometimes slaughtered, or else set ashore on desolate coasts, that they might not be readily able to take measures of redress. The Long Island, on the west coast of Ireland, appears to have served as a regular station for pirate ships; they also haunted much the Western Isles of Scotland. In 1609, a piratical crew, headed by two captains named Perkins and Randell, started from the Long Island in a vessel of 200 tons, named the Iron Prize, attended by a nimble pinnace of about half that burden; and for some months they roamed about the northern seas, picking up whatever small-craft came in their way. They even had the audacity to shew themselves at the mouth of the Firth of Forth. The attention of the Privy Council being called to their proceedings, three vessels were fitted out in a warlike manner at Leith, and sent in quest of the pirates. Perkins and Randell had meanwhile come to Orkney to refit. They ‘landed at the castle, and came to the town thereof,’ where they ‘behaved themselves maist barbarously, being ever drunk, and fechting amang themselves, and giving over themselves to all manner of vice and villany.’ Three of them attacked a small vessel belonging to the Earl of Orkney, lying on the shore, and were taken prisoners in the attempt by the earl’s brother, James Stewart. A day or two after this event, the three government ships made their appearance, and immediately a great part of the piratical company made off in the pinnace. A pursuit proving vain, the government ships returned and attacked the Iron Prize; and after a desperate conflict, in which they had two men killed and sundry wounded, they succeeded in capturing the whole remaining crew, amounting to nearly thirty men, who, with those previously taken, were brought to Leith and tried (July 26). Being found guilty, twenty-seven of these wretched men, including the two captains, were hung upon a gibbet next day at the pier of Leith. Three were reserved in the hope of their giving useful information.

The Chancellor Dunfermline, who took the lead in this severe administration of the law, tells the king in a letter written on the day of the execution: ‘This company of pirates did enterteen one whom they did call their Person [parson] for saying of prayers to them twice a day, who belike either wearied of his cure, or foreseeing the destruction of his flock, had forsaken them in Orkney, and, privily convoying himself over land, was at length deprehendit in the burgh of Dundee.’ As he confessed and gave evidence against the rest, besides bringing some of them to confession, he was reserved for the king’s pleasure, and probably let off.—Pit. C. K. Sc.

1610, Aug 12
There was at this time ‘a great visitation of the young children [of Aberdeen] with the plague of the pocks.’ There were also ‘continual weets,’ which threatened to destroy the crops and cause a famine. The cause being ‘the sins of the land,’ a public fast and humiliation was ordered in Aberdeen, ‘that God may be met with tears and repentance.’—A. K. S. R.

Oct 21
‘The Archbishop of St Andrews [Gladstanes], reposing in his bed in time of the afternoon sermon, the Sabbath after his diocesan synod in St Andrews, was wakened, and all the kirk and town with him, with a cry of blood and murder. For his sister son [Walter Anderson], master of his household, with a throw of his dagger, killed his cook [Robert Green], while as he was busy in dressing the lord-bishop’s supper. The dagger light[ed] just under the left pap of the cook, who fell down dead immediately.’ - Cal.

The young man was committed to prison; but, ‘the poor man’s friends being satisfied with a piece of money, none being to pursue the murder, he was by moyen [influence] cleansed by a white assize (as they call it) and let go free.’—Row. This trial took place before the regality court of St Andrews. On the ensuing 17th January, letters were raised by the king’s advocate against the assize, but with what result does not appear.—P. C. R.

Nov 1
before the going to of the sun, there were seen by twelve or thretteen husbandmen, great companies of men in three battles, joining together and fighting the space of an hour, on certain lands perteening to my Lord Livingston and the Laird of Cane. The honest men were examined in the presence of divers noblemen, barons, and gentlemen, and affirmed constantly that they saw such appearance.’—Cal.

Dec 23
We have now the first hint at public conveyances in Scotland in a letter of the king, encouraging Henry Anderson of Trailsund to bring a number of coaches and wagons with horses into Scotland, and licensing him and his heirs for fifteen years ‘to have and use coaches and wagons, ane or mae, as he shall think expedient, for transporting of his hieness lieges betwixt the burgh of Edinburgh and town of Leith . . . . providing that he be ready at all times for serving of his majesty’s lieges, and that he tak not aboon the sum of twa shillings Scots money for transporting of every person betwixt the said twa towns at ony time.’

1610, Dec 24
A patent was granted for the establishment of a glass-manufacture in Scotland. The business was commenced at Wemyss, in Fife, and, about ten years after, we find it, to all appearance, going on prosperously. ‘Braid glass‘—that is, glass for windows—was made, measuring three quarters of a Scots ell and a nail in length, while the breadth at the head was an ell wanting half a nail, and at the bottom half an ell wanting half a nail. It was declared to be equal in quality to Danskine glass. The glasses for drinking and other uses not being of such excellence, it was arranged that some specimens of English glass should be bought in London and established in Edinburgh Castle, to serve as patterns for the Scotch glass in point of quality. For the encouragement of the native manufacture, and to keep money within the country, the importation of foreign glass was (March 6, 1621) prohibited.—P. C. R.

1611, Mar
The Veitches and Tweedies of the upper part of Peeblesshire had long been at issue, and peace was only kept between them by means of mutual assurances given to the Privy Council. The king heard of the case, and was the more concerned about it, because he believed he had, by his personal exertions, so entirely suppressed what he called the wild and detestable monster of deidly feid in Scotland, that ‘we do hardly think there be any one feid except this in all that kingdom unreconciled.’ As to these belligerent men of the Tweed, ‘the wrongs and mischiefs done by either of, as we understand, to others’ [each other], is ‘in such a proportion of compensation, as neither party can either boast of advantage, or otherwise think himself too much behind.’ He now ordered his Scottish Council, ‘that you call before you the principals of either surname, and then take such course for removing of the feid, and reconceiling, as you have been accustomed to do in the like cases’—that is, force them into bonds of amity, if they would not go of their own accord.—P. C. R.

May 10
It was found necessary to put some restraint upon the number of poor Scotch people who repaired to the English court in hope of bettering their circumstances. The evil is spoken of as a ‘frequent and daily resort of great numbers of idle persons, men and women, of base sort and condition, and without ony certain trade, calling, or dependence, going from hence to court, by sea and land.’ It was said to be ‘very unpleasant and offensive to the king’s majesty, in so far as he is daily importuned with their suits and begging, and his royal court almost filled with them, they being, in the opinion and conceit of all behalders, but idle rascals and poor miserable bodies;’ the country, moreover, ‘is heavily disgracit, and mony slanderous imputations given out against the same, as gif there were no persons of guid rank, comeliness, nor credit within the same.’ The Council, therefore, deemed it necessary to cause an order to be proclaimed in all the burghs and seaports, forbidding masters of vessels to carry any people to England without first giving up their names, and declaring their errands and business to the Lords, under heavy penalties.—P. C. R.

A number of the king’s Scottish courtiers had, as is well known, accompanied or followed him into England, and obtained shares of his good-fortune. Sir George Home, now Earl of Dunbar; Sir John Ramsay, created Earl of Haddington; Sir James Hay, ultimately made Earl of Carlisle; and recently, Mr Robert Ker, who became the king’s especial favourite, and was made Earl of Somerset, are notable examples. The English, regarding the Scottish courtiers with natural jealousy, called them ‘beggarly Scots’ of which they complained to the king, who is said to have jocosely replied: ‘Content yourselves; I will shortly make the English as beggarly as you, and so end that controversy.’ On one occasion, this jealousy broke out with some violence at a race at Croydon, in consequence of a Scotsman named Ramsay striking the Earl of Montgomery with his riding-switch. ‘The English,’ says the scandal-mongering Osborne, ‘did, upon this accident, draw together, to make it a national quarrel; so far as Mr John Pinchbeck, a maimed man, having but the perfect use of two fingers, rode about with his dagger in his hand, crying: "Let us break our fast with them here, and dine with the rest in London!" But Herbert, not offering to strike again, there was nothing lost but the reputation of a gentleman." A ballad of the day described the metamorphosis which Scotchmen were understood to have undergone after their migration into England:

‘Bonny Scot, we all witness can,
That England hath made thee a gentleman.

Thy blue bonnet, when thou came hither,
Could scarce keep out the wind and weather,
But now it is turned to a hat and a feather;
Thy bonnet is blown, the devil knows whither.

Thy shoes on thy feet, when thou carnest from plough,
Were made of the hide of an old Scots cow;
But now they are turned to a rare Spanish leather,
And decked with roses altogether.

Thy sword at thy back was a great black blade,
With a great basket-hilt of iron made;
But now a long rapier doth hang at thy side,
And huffingly doth this bonny Scot ride.’

Even Osborne acknowledges that the ordinary conceptions as to the enrichment of the Scots courtiers were exaggerated. He says: ‘If many Scots got much, it was not more with one hand than they spent with the other;’ and he explains how Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, the king’s English treasurer, ‘had a trick to get the kernel, and leave the Scots but the shell, and yet cast all the envy on them. He would make them buy books of fee-farms, some £100 per annum, some 100 marks; and he would compound with them for £1000 . . . . then would he fill up this book with such prime land as should be worth £10,000 or £20,000, which was easy for him, being treasurer, so to do Salisbury by this means enriched himself infinitely.’ The case is a significant one. The experience by the Scots, a simple rustic people, of the superior mercantile sharpness of the English, on coming into business relations with them, is probably the main cause of that dry cautious manner which the English censure in them as a national characteristic.

July 11
From an act of the Privy Council of this date, we get a curious idea of the customs of the age regarding legal suits. It was declared that one of the chief causes of ‘the frequent and unlawful convocations, and the uncomely backing of noblemen and pairties upon the streets of Edinburgh,’ was the fact that ‘noblemen, prelates, and councillors repairing to this burgh, do ordinarily walk on the streets upon foot, whereby all persons of their friendship and dependence, and who otherwise has occasion to solicit them in their actions and causes, do attend and await upon them, and without modesty or discretion, importunes and fashes them with untimely solicitations and impertinent discourses, and sometimes by their foolish insolence and misbehaviour gives occasion of great misrule and unquietness within this burgh.’

The remedy ordered was as curious as the evil itself. It was, that noblemen, prelates, and councillors, when they come to the council, or are abroad in the town on their private affairs, should, as became their rank, ‘ride on horseback with footmantles or in coaches ‘—thus freeing themselves of that flocking of suitors which so much beset them when they appeared on foot—P. C. R.

July 17
This day, John Mure of Auchindrain, James Mure, his son, and James Bannatyne of Chapeldonald, were brought to trial in Edinburgh for sundry crimes of a singularly atrocious character. The first of these personages has been before us on two former occasions—namely, under January 1, 1596—7, and May 11, 1602; to which reference may be made for an introduction to what is now to be related.

Auchindrain, it appears, felt that the boy William Dalrymple, who had carried the letter making the appointment for a meeting with Colzean, was a living evidence of his having been the deviser of the slaughter of that gentleman. He got the lad into his hand; and kept him for a time in his house; then, on his wearying of confinement, sent him to a friend in the Isle of Arran; thence, on his wearying of being ‘in a barbarous country among rude people,’ he had him brought back to his own house, and, as soon as possible, despatched him with a friend to become a soldier in Lord Buccleuch’s regiment, serving under Maurice Prince of Orange. Dalrymple had not been long in the Low Countries when he tired of being a soldier, and came back to Scotland. Once more he was at large in Ayrshire, and a source of uneasiness to Mure of Auchindrain. It was now necessary to take more decisive measures. Mure and his son (September 1607) sent a servant to the young man to take him to the house of James Bannatyne of Chapeldonald, and arranging to join them on the way, ‘held divers purpose; speeches, and conferences with him, tried of him the estate of the Low Countries and sundry other matter;’ and finally placed him as a guest in Chapeldonald House, under the name of William Montgomery.

According to appointment, at ten o’clock of the evening of next day, James Bannatyne came with Dalrymple to meet the two Mures on the sands near Girvan. There, the elder Mure explained to Bannatyne the cause of his fears regarding the young man, telling him ‘he saw no remeed but to redd Dalrymple furth of this life, since he could not otherwise be kept out of his way, Whereunto Bannatyne making answer, that it was ane cruel purpose to murder the poor innocent youth, specially seeing they might send him to Ireland, to be safely kept there Auchindrain seemed to incline somewhat to that expedient; and, in the uncertainty of his resolution, turning toward the part where his son stood, of purpose, as appeared, to consult with him, young Auchindrain perceived them no sooner near, but, thereby assuring himself of their assistance, in the execution of that whilk his father and he had concluded, he did violently invade Dalrymple, rushed him to the ground, and never left him till, helped by his father, with his hands and knees he had strangled him.’

The horrid deed being accomplished, the Mures, with spades they had brought, tried to bury Dalrymple in the sand; but, finding the hole always fill up with water, they were at length obliged to carry the body into the sea, going in as far as they could wade, and hoping that an outgoing wind would carry it to the coast of Ireland. Five nights after, it was thrown back upon the beach at the very scene of the murder, and was soon found by the country people. The Earl of Cassillis heard of it, and caused an account of the discovery to be published throughout the district. By the mother and sister of Dalrymple, it was at once pronounced to be his corpse, and suspicion instantly alighted upon the Mures. A relative, advised with about the rumour, said it could not be safe for them to brave the law in the teeth of so much prejudice; neither, supposing they absconded under such a suspicion, could their friends stand up for them. The only expedient was to make an excuse for going out of the way—assault, for instance, Hugh Kennedy of Garriehorn, a servant of the Earl of Cassillis, a man against whom they had many ‘probable quarrels.’ The Mures actually adopted this expedient, setting upon Garriehorn in the town of Ayr, and only failing to slay him by reason of the vigour of his defence. The earl then saw that it was necessary to take strong measures against enemies capable of such doings, and he accordingly had them summoned both for Dalrymple’s murder and for the assault of Garriehorn. They allowed themselves to be put to the horn—that is, denounced as rebels for not appearing—but loudly professed that, if freed on the score of the assault, they would stand their trial for the murder, alleging their entire innocence of that transaction. The king was now made acquainted with the case, and, by his orders, Auchindrain the elder was seized, and thrown into the Tolbooth in Edinburgh. The two culprits nevertheless continued to feel confidence in the want of proof against them, believing that, if Bannatyne were out of the way, it would be impossible to bring the fact home to them. The younger Mure, still at large, accordingly dealt with Bannatyne to induce him to go to Ireland. It is a wonder he did not at once send his friend to a more distant bourn. When Bannatyne was gone, young Mure came boldly forward to take his trial, somewhat to the embarrassment of the officers of justice. However, by the suggestion of his majesty, he was not allowed to depart till he should have suffered the torture, with a view to making him confess. To the admiration of all, he bore this treatment with unflinching fortitude, and confessed nothing.

Public sentiment now rose in favour of the Mures as persecuted men, and the Privy Council was inclined to let them off; and would have done so, had not the king continued firm in his belief of their guilt, and ordered them to be detained. Some years passed on, and proof seemed still past hope, when the Earl of Abercorn contrived to find out Bannatyne in Ireland, and caused him to be brought over to his own house in Paisley. There, Bannatyne gave a full account of the murder, but claimed, as fulfilment of a condition, that he should be allowed his freedom. The earl told him he had had no such understanding of the matter; but, to take away all ground of complaint, he would liberate him for the meantime, but at the end of ten days make every possible effort to take him unconditionally, whether dead or alive. At this Bannatyne hesitated; he knew that already the Mures had been laying plots to get him cut off in Ireland—now, between their vengeance and the extreme persecution threatened by Lord Abercorn, he could see no chance for safety. He therefore avowed his inclination to make a full confession before a court of law, and trust to his majesty’s clemency.

On being confronted with Bannatyne, the Mures appeared as obstinate in their protestations of innocence as ever, contradicting everything he said, and denouncing him as a tool of their enemies. They were, nevertheless, brought to trial, along with Bannatyne, on the day noted in the margin—found guilty, and condemned to be beheaded at the Cross of Edinburgh, with forfeiture. of all they possessed to his majesty’s use. So ended this extraordinary tissue of crimes, old Auchindrain being at the time about eighty years of age.

Macleod of Raasay had been proprietor of the lands of Gairloch on the mainland of Ross-shire. He had the misfortune to live in the same time with Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, who has already been described as a man much too clever for his neighbours. Lord Kintail—for he had recently been made a peer—had a wadset or bond over a third of Gairloch, and by proper use of this legal footing in the estate, joined to neglect of legal defences by the insular chieftain, was in the way of becoming proprietor of the whole. While Raasay, however, neglected law, he had no reluctance to use the sword: so a hot feud subsisted between him and the crafty Mackenzie. The latter had already pursued the Macleods out of Gairloch with fire and sword.

Uuder the date noted in the margin, Lord Kintail hired a ship, that his son Murdo Mackenzie might go to Skye with a proper following, in order to apprehend one John Holmogh MacRorie, a duniwassal of Raasay, who had given him some trouble in the Gairloch. The vessel, with whatever design it set out, soon changed its course, and arrived opposite Macleod’s castle in the isle of Raasay—the same place where Johnson and Boswell afterwards found such an elegant scene of Highland hospitality. MacGilliecallum—such is the Highland appellative of the Laird of Raasay— seeing the vessel, went out to it with twelve of his followers, to buy some wine. ‘When Murdo Mackenzie did see them coming, he, with all his train, lest they should be seen, went to the lower rooms of the ship, leaving the mariners only above the decks. The Laird of Raasay entered; and, having spoken the mariners, he departed, with a resolution to return quickly. Murdo Mackenzie, understanding that they were gone, came out of the lower rooms; and perceiving them coming again, he resolved to conceal himself no longer. The Laird of Raasay desired his brother Murdo to follow him into the ship with more company in another galley, that they might carry to the shore some wine which he had bought from the mariners; so returning to the ship, and finding Murdo Mackenzie there beyond his expectation, he consulteth with his men, and thereupon resolveth to take him prisoner, in pledge of his cousin John MacAllan MacRorie, whom the Laird of Gairloch detained in captivity.’—G. H. S.

The History of the Mackenzie family (MS.) says that Raasay, on coming the second time into the vessel, fell to drinking with Murdo Mackenzie in loving terms. ‘Four of Murdo’s men, fearing the worst, kept themselves fresh [sober] . . . . Raasay, sitting on the right hand of Murdo, said to him: "Murdo, thou art my prisoner!" Murdo, hearing this, starts, and, taking Raasay by the middle, threw him upon the deck, and said he scorned to be his prisoner. With that a fellow of Raasay’s strake him with a dirk. He, finding himself wounded, drew back to draw his sword, [so] that he went overboard. He, thinking to swim to the coast of Sconsarie, was drowned by the small boats that were coming from Raasay. His men, seeing him killed, resolved to sell their lives at the best rate they could. The four men that kept themselves fresh, fought so manfully in their own defence, and in revenge of their master, that they killed the Laird of Raasay and Gilliecallum More, the author of this mischief:, his two sons, with all the rest that came to the vessel with Raasay. Tulloch’s son, with six of Murdo’s company, were killed as they were coming above deck from the place where they lay drunk. The four [sober] men . . . were all pitifully hurt. When they were drawing the anchor, the fourth man, called Hector Oig M’Echin Vich Kinnich, ane active young gentleman, was shot with a chance bullet from the boats. The other three, cutting the tow of the anchor, did sail away with the dead corpses of both parties.’

‘Thus,’ says Sir Robert Gordon in conclusion to this murderous story, ‘hath the Laird of Gairloch obtained peaceable possession of that land.’

Sep 24
‘Sir James Lawson of Humbie, riding in Balhelvie Sands, where many other gentlemen were passing their time, sank down in a part of the sands and perished. He was found again on the morn, but his horse was never seen.’—Cal.

Oct 25
It had been customary for the Scottish universities to receive students who had, through misbehaviour, become fugitives from other seats of learning; and now, as a natural consequence, it was found that the native youth at the university of Edinburgh, presuming on impunity for any improprieties they might commit, or a resource in ease of punishment being attempted, ‘has ta’en and takes the bauldness to misknow the principal and regents, and to debord in all kind of uncomely behaviour and insolencies, no wise seemly in the persons of students and scholars.’ The Privy Council therefore issued a strict order forbidding the reception of fugitive students into the universities—P. C. R.

Return to Book Index


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus