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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of Charles II.: 1673 - 1685 Part B

The Macleans had been a loyal clan, fighting with Montrose for the king, and suffering not a little in the royal cause. What the Campbells had been during the same period need not be particularised. Yet, when the clemency of the government had restored the Argyle estates to the earl, he was not the less disposed on that account to urge certain claims of his family upon its more loyal neighbours. Fountainhall speaks of them as ‘patched-up claims and decreets of his own courts for contumacy;’ while the fact was that the Macleans durst not make appearance in the grounds of their enemy, ‘ and pretended casualties of superiority, as escheats, wards, non-entries, reliefs, &c.,’ a particularly hard case, as these arose in many instances from the deaths of Macleans in the king’s service, while their superior, the late Marquis of Argyle, had been ‘the great transgressor.’ Argyle, however, according to the alleged genius of his family in that age, ‘walked warily in all he did,’ and, the Macleans imprudently despising his efforts, and neglecting legal measures of resistance, he succeeded ultimately in obtaining a letter of fire and sword against them. [‘A copy of this document, extracted from the Record of the Privy Council, is printed in full in the appendix to Pennant’s Tour. It recites that Lachlan Maclean of Broloies, Hector Og Maclean his brother, and others, had been denounced rebels for refusing to answer to the Earl of Argyle, justiciar of Argyle, for having in the preceding April assembled three or four hundred men by the fire-process (the fiery cross) in Mull, Moveran, and other places, and taken warlike possession of the lands of Knockersmartin, &e. It grants commission to Lord Niel Campbell, and nine other gentlemen, to raise forces and proceed in warlike manner against the rebels, assuring them that no slaughter or fire-raising they may commit will be imputed to them as a crime, provided only they give an account of their proceedings before next New-year’s Day.] Behold, then, in the summer of this year, a clan muster of the Campbells and their connections, to the amount of 2000 men, designed to enforce certain payments from the Tutor of Maclean in Mull—the Maclean of the day being a minor under the care of an uncle so called. The Tutor, on his part, has seven or eight hundred kilted followers to make resistance; but either his means were inadequate, or his measures had been ill concerted. The earl ‘besetting the isle with ships and boats, enters at three several places; at one place, Lord Niel, the earl’s brother, lights upon the cows which the Highlanders had driven to that place for safety, and caused cut down and hough [hamstring] a considerable number of them; which occasioned a great cry by the women and children keeping them, and running to their husbands and friends to acquaint them how it stood; whereupon the islanders, being amazed, fainted and came to a composition of the matter. The earl gets the castle of Duart into his own hand, and mans it for himself. They all yield and submit, and promise payment and subjection to the said earl.’—Law. See further transactions next year.

There was no shearing this year till October, and much of the corn green when cut even then. Consequently, meal, though of bad quality, went to a pound sterling the boll. ‘Yet there was not any time cows found fatter than in this harvest, and no scarcity either of cows or sheep for slaughter. Thus the Lord, who casts down with one hand, lifts up with the other.’

It is rather surprising that sheep and cattle should so quickly have become plentiful after the great destruction of such stock from the storms of the preceding January. But in as far as the fact was true, the good condition of the animals might be readily accounted for by the very humidity of the summer and autumn, producing an abundance of herbage, while destructive to cereal crops.

The winter of 1674-5 is stated
to have been singularly mild and free of rain in Ireland, and probably it was of the same character in Scotland. In our country, as in Ireland, there was a good harvest; yet victual continued to be dear by reason of the stock of the preceding scanty season being so thoroughly exhausted. Another winter of extraordinary mildness followed. The weather, at the end of November and beginning of December, is described as very warm. Many people fell sick, and died. A feverish cold—what might now be called influenza—was epidemic in town and country, ‘whereof more die than was observed in other years before.’—Law.

Patrick Walker tells us that one night in August of this year, but more probably the fact occurred in 1674, Mr Donald Cargill, being at Cowhill in Livingstone parish, saw a great mist come on, and told the family to be careful of it, keeping close within their houses. He also desired them to mark where it stood thickest, ‘for there they would see the effects saddest.’ There was a small place called Craigs, where they observed the mist unusually thick, and, within four months after, thirty persons died there. It is probable that Mr Donald’s predictions in this case were founded upon simple observation of natural facts.

Macleans having failed in their agreement with the Earl of Argyle, and set his claims at nought, his lordship now prepared a second expedition against Mull, and this time he added to his own forces some regular soldiers and militia. The Macleans, on the other hand, had obtained assistance to a considerable amount from Macdonnell of Glengarry, Cameron of Locheil, and Maclean of Lochbuy. There were probably not less than fifteen hundred armed Highlanders on each side.

The Campbells, proceeding in a great fleet of ships and birlins, under the command of the earl’s brother, Lord Niel, encountered a severe storm on the 21st and 22d of September, by which they were damaged and driven back, though fortunately no lives were lost. ‘This storm was so great, that.. . . great oaks were blown up by the roots . . . . old trees of two hundred years standing broken in the midst . . . . and the corns so shaken, that the people got little more than straw to cut down. A rumour went that there was a witch-wife, named Muddock, had promised to the Macleans that, so long as she lived, the Earl of Argyle should not enter Mull; and indeed many of the people imputed the rise of that great storm unto her paction with the devil, how true I cannot assert.’—Law. Might not the autumnal equinox somewhat better account for the fact?

The Earl of Argyle was so far baffled by this storm, that he had to give up for the meantime the design of vindicating his rights by force.

We find next year the cause of the Macleans taken up by the Earl of Seakforth, the Marquis of Athole, and some other chiefs, by whose means a suspension of Argyle’s powers was obtained, and his account subjected to a severe reckoning, ‘which he was most averse to.’ They also hounded out a creditor of his own upon him, and he was obliged to make a precipitate retreat from Edinburgh to escape caption, and to carry off the furniture of his Stirling mansion to a secure place in the Highlands, lest it should be seized for the debt.

The earl and the Macleans are found next year again at legal tilt, but with no particular result that appears. His own forfeiture for treason, which soon after occurred, probably saved them from further annoyance.

The winter of 1675-6 being
singularly mild, was followed by a favourable spring, and there consequently was an abundant harvest. The characteristic mutability of our climate was, however, shewn immediately after. There was a drought in latter autumn, and about the 18th of December the temperature fell to an extraordinary degree, ‘the most aged never remembered the like. The birds fell down frae the air dead; the rats in numbers found dead; all liquors froze, even the strongest ale; and the distilled waters of apothecaries in warm rooms froze in whole, and the glasses broke.’—Law.

boys, named Clark and Ramsay, the one seventeen, and the other fifteen years of age, suffered, in Edinburgh for an offence which had perhaps been suggested by the rumours attending the celebrated case of the Marchioness de Brinvilliers. John Anderson, a merchant, the master of Ramsay, had long been pining under an enfeebling malady, which was likely to have in time brought him to the grave. During his sickness, Ramsay, in conjunction with his companion Clark, purloined several articles of value belonging to his master, trusting that he would die, and that consequently no discovery would take place. Finding Anderson’s disease taking a turn, the young thieves became alarmed; and took into counsel another boy named Kennedy, an apothecary’s apprentice, who supplied them with a drug calculated to keep up the malady under which Anderson had suffered. The man receiving this in small doses, grew ill again, and in time died. No suspicion of foul play was entertained, and apparently the two lads would have been allowed to remain unnoticed, if they had not offered for sale a gold chain which formed part of their plunder. Being detained and questioned, they fell into such terror, that an ingenuous confession of their guilt was easily obtained from them, accompanied with many expressions of sorrow. They were hanged, ‘both in regard to the theft clearly proven, and for tenor that the Italian trick of sending men to the other world in figs and possets might not come over seas to our island.’ Kennedy, ‘an outed minister’s son,’ was detained for want of proof, and ultimately banished.— Foun.

Wodrow adds a tale of wonder, as told him by his mother-in-law, Mrs Warner, who had visited the two boys in prison. After the burial of Anderson, his nephew, Sir John Clerk of Pennycuick, ‘was one night lying in his own house, in a room with some others, sleeping. In his sleep he imagined he heard a voice calling to him: "Avenge the blood of your uncle!" and wakened, and asked if any of them had been speaking to him. They declared not. He composed himself to sleep, and had it repeated; and he asked the former question the second time, and those in the room denied, as above. He slept again, and had the same repeated the third time; on which he got up, and went immediately to Edinburgh and made a particular inquiry into the circumstances of his uncle’s death, at the two apprentices, but found nothing to fix on at this time. In a little, Sir John met with a medal in a goldsmith’s shop which he knew to belong to his uncle. This he traced up till he landed it on the apprentices, who, upon this, confessed they had opened their master’s cabinet and taken out money, &c.’

Mr James Mitchell, who made an attempt on Archbishop Sharpe’s life in 1668, and wounded the Bishop of Orkney, was taken prisoner in February 1674, and being subjected to examination, and promised his life if he would confess, did make a confession—which, however, he afterwards retracted before the Court of Justiciary, having in the interval been told that nothing could be proved against him, and warned that perhaps the promise made to him might not be respected. This conduct put the government to a difficulty, and irritated them the more against him. At length, after keeping him in a very hard confinement for two years, they resolved to subject him to the torture, as the only means left to bring him back to his confession.

It is not proposed here to detail the sufferings of the wretched Mitchell; but those who know the courts of law, as they now exist, will probably view with some interest the arrangements that were made beforehand for that kind of procedure.

Jan 6
The resolution having been formed to put Mitchell to the torture of the boot, the Council ‘do hereby nominate the Earls of Linlithgow, Wigton, Seaforth, the Lords Ross and Treasurer Depute as a committee of Council to meet on the 24th day of January next, at nine o’clock in the forenoon in the Parliament House, where the justices do ordinarily hold their courts, and to cause put the said Mr James Mitchell to the question and torture concerning his being in the rebellion in the year 1666, and appoints the commissioners of justiciary in a fenced court to be present then and assistant, in their robes, with their clerks and other officers of court; and recommends to the said committee, or any three of them with the commissioners of justiciary, to meet before that time and consider of the way and manner of the said torture,’ &c.

The Council afterwards ordered that a bailie of Edinburgh should be present, ‘to receive and put in execution such orders as the lords shall think fit to give.’—P. C. R.

The unfortunate Mitchell sustained the torture with surprising firmness, and without making any admission criminative of himself. A proposal being afterwards made to torture him in the other leg, one of his friends (so the report went) dropped an anonymous hint to Archbishop Sharpe, that if he persisted in the resolution, he should have a shot from a steadier hand; ‘whereupon he was let alone, but still kept in prison.’—Law. At length the unhappy man was brought to a regular trial, when the state-officers all denied in the witness-box that fact of the promise of life upon confession, which their own record bore, and which Mitchell alleged had taken place. It is just possible that the record misrepresented what took place; but it is very difficult to make so largely charitable an allowance. Mitchell suffered in the Grassmarket (January 1678).

July 9
‘A star was seen at twelve hours of the day by a great company of people met for sermon on Gargunnock Hills, and that when the sun was shining.’—Law.

One John Scott, a Quaker in Leith, was fined by Bailie Carmichael there, in a hundred dollars, and banished from the town, for brewing upon the Sunday, and answering, when challenged for it by the bailie and Mr Hamilton the minister, that ‘he might as weel brew on the Sunday as Mr Hamilton might take money for going up to a desk, and talking and throwing water upon a bairn’s face.’ He appealed to the Privy Council against the sentence as over-severe and beyond the power of the magistrate; but ‘he was ill set, for he had both the magistracy and the clergy—who solicited strongly—against him, for both of them would be baffled if the sentence were found unjust. The Council ratified the bailie’s sentence. .. . whereupon Bailie Carmichael arrested and seized eighty bolls of malt, the said Scott had paid ten or eleven pound the boll for, when victual was dear, and caused apprise and judge it to him, for his hundred dollars.’—Foun.

For several years there had been a remarkable lull in the spiritual world, and, whether from the judicious mildness of the government in ordering that no women should be condemned for witchcraft except upon voluntary confession, or any other cause, witch cases had wholly ceased. All at once, the devil’s work recommenced, and a series of dismal tragedies ensued. It seems to have been primarily owing to a vagrant girl named Janet Douglas, who appeared deaf and dumb, and who may be reasonably set down as one of those singular young persons who, acting under a morbid love of mischief, have at the same time marvellous powers of deception.

Sir George Maxwell of Pollock had for some weeks been very unwell, with a pain in his side and one in his shoulder. The illness had first come upon him suddenly in the night, when at Glasgow, in the form of a violent heat, attended with pain. At the time noted in the margin, Janet Douglas came to the neighbouring village, and began to frequent Pollock House. Attracting the attention of Sir George’s sister and daughter, she endeavoured to apprise them by signs that, at a certain cottage not far oft’, there was a picture of wax turning at a fire; and she expressed in her imperfect way a wish that a couple of men should go with her thither. Lady Maxwell, not being inclined to superstition, would have denied the girl’s request; but the two other gentlewomen consented. So Janet went away with two men-servants, and straight conducted them to the cottage of an old woman of evil fame, named Janet Mathie, whose son the laird had some time before imprisoned for stealing his fruit. ‘She going in with the men, the woman on some occasion stepping to the door, the dumb lass instantly put her hand behind the chimney, and takes out a picture of wax wrapped in a linen cloth, gives it to the men; away they all come with it, and let the gentlewomen see it. They find two pins stuck in the right side of it, and a pin on the shoulder downward, which they take out, and keeps quiet; and that night the bird had good rest, and mended afterward, though slowly, for he was sore brought down in his body: and in two or three days they made him understand the matter. The woman is apprehended, and laid up in prison in Paisley! On being searched, several witch-marks—that is, spots insensible to pain—were found upon her.

On the 4th of January, Sir George’s illness recurred with the same violence as before, and his face assumed the leaden hue of death. Amidst the anxieties which this occasioned, the dumb girl sent to inform the family that John Stewart, Mathie’s son, had made a new image of clay, for the purpose of taking away Sir George’s life. Two gentlemen went next day with the girl to Mathie’s cottage, and keeping her at a distance, but acting under her directions, found such an image under the bolster of a bed, with three pins sticking in it. The young man and his sister Annaple were immediately apprehended. From that day, it was said that Sir George began to recover his health.

Stewart at first denied all concern in the images, but, on witch-marks being found on his person, he was ‘confounded,’ and joined his sister in a confession, which described witch-conventions in their mother’s house, along with ‘a man dressed in black, with a blue band and white hand-cuffs, with hoggars over his bare feet, which were cloven!’ Three women of the neighbourhood, Bessie Weir, Margaret Jackson, and Marjory Craig, were accordingly apprehended and examined, when the second gave a confession to much the same effect, but the other two proved ‘obdurate.’

In the subsequent judicial proceedings, Annaple Stewart gave a clear statement regarding the making of the first wax image in October last in the presence of the Black Man, her mother, and the other three women. They bound it on a spit, and turned it round before the fire, saying: ‘Sir George Pollock! Sir George Pollock!’ The young man, who was not then at home, had returned and been present at the making of the second image in January. ‘After he had gone to bed, the Black Man came in, and called him quietly by his name, upon which he arose from the bed and put on his clothes. Margaret Jackson, Bessie Weir, and Marjory Craig did enter in at the window in the gable. The first thing that the Black Man required was that he should renounce his baptism and deliver up himself wholly unto him, putting one of his hands on the crown of his head, and the other to the sole of his foot . . . promising he should not want any pleasure, and that he should get his heart sythe on all that should do him wrong. (All having given their consent to the making of the clay image, which was meant as a revenge for Sir George Maxwell taking away his mother), they wrought the clay, and the Black Man did make the head and face, and the two arms. The devil set three pins in the same, one in each side, and one in the breast; and John did hold the candle all the time the picture was making The picture was placed by Bessie Weir in his bed-straw.’ On this occasion, they had all had nicknames given them by the devil, who himself bore the name of Ejool.

It is noted that when the girl, after confession in bed in Pollock House, was asked what the devil’s name had been to her, ‘she, being about to tell, was stopped, the bed being made to shake, and her clothes under her blown up with a wind.’

When the two young people had been committed to Paisley prison, Janet, their mother, desired to see her son, and the request being granted, ‘they make a third and new picture of clay, which the dumb lass again discovers.’ It was supposed that this was intended for Sir George’s daughter-in-law, who had taken an active interest in detecting the diabolic conspiracy, and who fell ill about this time.

In consideration of her nonage and penitency, Annaple Stewart was not brought to trial, though retained in prison. On the 15th of February, the rest of the party were tried and condemned, Janet Mathie, Bessie Weir, and Marjory Craig continuing to deny their guilt to the last. The obduracy of Mathie was considered the more horrible, as her two children seriously exhorted her to confession, Annaple with tears reminding her of her many meetings with the devil, but all in vain. The four women and the boy actually suffered in Paisley (20th February). Mathie was first hanged, and then burned, along with the wax and clay effigies. When Weir, the last of the four, was turned off the gallows, ‘there appears a raven, and approaches the hangman within an ell of him, and flies away again.’—Law.

it is perhaps the most singular fact regarding this case, that the particulars of it are narrated with all seriousness by Sir George’s son and successor, Sir John Maxwell, who was subsequently Lord Justice-clerk—that is, supreme criminal judge in Scotland. He intimates not the least doubt of any of the facts, neither of any of the popular inferences from them. Other intelligent men in that age were struck by the manner in which the doings of the witches were detected, and Janet Douglas was for some time the subject of general attention. In the same month which saw the witches done to death on Paisley green, she detected a similar conspiracy against Mr Hugh Smith, the minister of Eastwood, who ‘was much afflicted with pain and sweating, to the changing of half-a-dozen shirts some days, and was brought very low, but after the discovery, and the effigy gotten, and the prins taken out, grew well again.’ It was given out regarding the girl, that she understood any language in which she was addressed. When she had somewhat recovered the use of her own tongue, which was about two months after these events, she told that three years before, she had had ‘an impression on her spirit’ to come to Pollock. ‘Being asked how she had knowledge of detecting witches and other secrets, she declared that she knew not from what spirit; only things were suggested to her; but denied that she had any correspondence with Satan.’—Law.

According to Sir John Lauder, she stated that ‘she had all things revealed to her in her sleep by vision.’ This learned gentleman adds: ‘What made her very suspect to be haunted only by a familiar, was her dissolute idle life, having. . . . not so much as a show or semblance of piety in it, but much lightness and vanity."

The Privy Council, hearing much rumour of these things from the west, sent orders to search for and apprehend Janet Douglas, and she was brought to Edinburgh in May, and lodged in the Canongate Tolbooth. People flocked to see her, and she began to exercise her art of witch-finding amongst them, but with no particular effect. In June, nevertheless, five or six women of the west, whom she had detected in killing Hamilton of Barns by a wax image, were burned for their imaginary crime at Dumbarton. Next month we find a reference to her in another case.

Two sons of Douglas of Barloch having been drowned in crossing a river at one time, the father was induced by Janet Douglas to believe that the calamity was an effect of witchcraft. Barloch consequently caused John Gray, Janet M’Nair, Thomas and Mary Mitchell, to be apprehended and carried to Stirling Tolbooth. There, ‘their bodies being searched by the ordinar pricker, there were witch-marks found upon each of them, and Janet M’Nair confessed that she got these marks from the grip of a grim black man, and bed a great pain for a time thereafter.’ After keeping these four persons in jail on his own charges for fourteen weeks, Barloch found the expense more than he was able to undergo, ‘being but a gentleman of a mean fortune;’ and on his petition, the Council ordered (July 5, 1677) that the magistrates of Stirling should in the meantime ‘entertein the prisoners.’ Against this ordinance, the magistrates immediately reclaimed, ‘seeing it is a great burden to the town, who have so many other contingencies to undergo;’ and the lords, reconsidering the matter, commissioned the Lairds of Kier, Touch, and Herbertshire, to examine the prisoners, and ‘try what they find anent these persons’ guilt of the crime of witchcraft, and report.’

What was ultimately done with the four Stirling prisoners, we do not learn. As to Janet Douglas, the Council began to feel that she was something of an inconvenience in the country; so they determined to banish her beyond seas. At first, no skipper could be found who was willing to take her in his vessel; some were disposed to set sail without a pass, to avoid being compelled to take such a dangerous commodity on board. But Janet was ultimately banished and heard of no more.

Lord Fountainhall notes a remarkable homicide as taking place this winter, at the village of Abernethy in Fife. A butcher and another man, sitting in an ale-house together, quarrelled, and in a sudden fit of passion, the butcher inflicted a mortal stab upon his companion. Some gentlemen sitting in a neighbouring room heard the fray, and, rushing in, found the butcher with the bloody knife in his hand. Excited by the atrocity of the deed, they hurried off the murderer to the regality gallows, and instantly hanged him, though they had no sort of authority to act in that manner. They probably acted upon a popular notion, that a murderer taken red-hand, or fresh from the act, may be instantly done to death by the bystanders; which appears, however, to be a mistake.

1677, Jan
The celebrated Beau Fielding is supposed to have at this time paid a visit to Edinburgh, while in difficulties on account of his suspected share in the murder of Robert Perceval—a young libertine found dead one morning near the Maypole in the Strand. He and two Scotch gentlemen of his own sort, being met one evening at their cups in a house in Edinburgh, were reputed to have drunk three toasts, ‘horrid to think on ‘—namely, the Trinity, their own confusion, and the devil.—Law. The allegation is but too credible, for about this time there begins to appear an extreme form of profligacy and impiety—confined, indeed, to a few of the upper classes—such as had never before been known in Scotland.

Jan 18
The system formerly adopted for keeping peace and maintaining a law in the Highlands—namely, the making heads of clans answerable for their dependents and inferiors—was now declared to have been found not to answer, ‘in respect the said duty doth lie upon many persons in general, and no person doth make it his work? Consequently, ‘the insoleney and villainy of thieves, somers, and other wicked and lawless persons do abound and increase, to the affront of our authority and oppression of the lieges.’ The government therefore deemed it necessary to try the effect of a different plan, and granted a commission to Sir James Campbell of Lawers to use means for apprehending thieves and broken men in the Highlands, in order that they might be brought to justice. It was also arranged that when any cattle or other property was stolen, Sir James should make restitution to the owners, only taking them bound to support him in the legal processes by which he should endeavour to rescue the goods from the thieves, and get due punishment inflicted. All sheriffs, chiefs, landlords, and others were enjoined to assist and countenance Sir James in this thief-taking commission.

Eneas Lord Macdonald was afterwards conjoined with Sir James Campbell; and for his service during the year ending the 1st of September 1671, Sir James was ordered the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds! But this seems to have been regarded as rather scanty remuneration, and it was (September 8, 1677) decreed that for the future there should be a salary of two hundred pounds to ‘ilk ane of the said two persons.’

As necessary to support the two gentlemen in their task, a garrison of a hundred soldiers was sent to Inverlochy, care being previously taken to have dwellings built for them, ‘as the house there is altogether out of repair and unlodgeable.’ The Marquis of Huntly and the Laird of Grant were called upon to exert themselves to convince the minor chiefs in their several districts that the government was now determined to put down the lawless system in the Highlands. It was intimated by other means that letters of fire and sword would be granted against any district in which gentler means had been found unavailing.

In February 1680, James M’Nab in Achessan represented to the Privy Council that, being engaged by Sir James Campbell of Lawers to assist in apprehending Highland robbers, he had, at the hazard of his life, taken John, Callum, and Duncan M’Gibbons, and delivered them to the governor of the garrison at Finlarig—an unusually perilous piece of duty, for which he had been promised the sum of eight hundred merks, now refused by Sir James. As a plea at law ‘against a person of such dexterity’ would have exhausted the reward, he had had no alternative but to apply to the Council.. Sir James was ordered to pay the reward as claimed.—P. C. R.

A very compendious view of some of the customs of the Highlanders in the seventeenth century was given by Mr John Fraser, an Episcopal minister, author of a Treatise on Second-Sight: ‘In general they were litigious, ready to take arms upon a small occasion, very predatory, much given to tables, carding, and dicing. Their games was military exercise, and such as rendered them fittest for war, as arching, running, jumping, with and without race, swimming, continual hunting and fowling, feasting, especially upon their holidays, the which they had enough, borrowed from popery. Their marriage and funeral solemnities were much like [those of] their neighbours in the low country; only at their funerals, there was fearful howling, screeching, and crying, with very bitter lamentation, and a complete narration of the descent of the dead person, the valorous acts of himself and his predecessors, sung with tune in measure, continual piping, if the person was of any quality or professing arms. Their chiliarchy had their ushers that gaed out and came in before them, in full arms. I cannot pass by a cruel custom that‘s hardly yet extinct. They played at cards or tables (to pass the time in the winter nights) in parties, perhaps four on a side; the party that lost, was obliged to make his man sit down on the midst of the floor; then there was a single-soled shoe, well plated, wherewith his antagonist was to give him [the man) six strokes on end, upon his bare loof [palm], and the doing of that with strength and art was thought gallantry."

Feb 1
A travelling doctor, styling himself Joannes Baptista Marentini, under licence from the king, and with the permission of the magistrates of Edinburgh, had a stage erected in that city, ‘for practising his skill in physic and otherwise.’ His term of permission being about to expire, and the magistrates unwilling to renew it, he found it necessary to apply to the Privy Council for a further term, on the ground that he needed some more time for effecting the cure of certain persons under his hands. The Council gratified him with a prolongation till the 1st of April, in order that, ‘having finished the said undertaken cures, he may the more freely, and with the greater approbation, depart from this city to some other.’

A little case of the heart comes in as a pendant to the above narrative. Four days after the end of the term assigned in the act of the Privy Council, James Baynes, wright, came before that august body with a petition, setting forth how ‘one Monsieur Devoe, servant to the mountebank who was lately in this place, hath, by sinistrous and indirect means, secured and enticed the petitioner’s daughter and only child to desert her parents, and to live with him upon pretence of a clandestine marriage.’ There being reason to fear that he might escape, unless very prompt measures were taken, the Council granted warrant to have the offender imprisoned in the Tolbooth. After escaping from these matrimonial troubles, Devoe settled in Edinburgh as a dancing-master, and we shall find his name coming before us several times on other occasions.

The deaf and dumb Laird of Duntreath, a noted person in those days, being at Paisley, ‘made signs to some of great fightings and troubles to be in the land in a few months.’—Law.

This gentleman, who was said to be, notwithstanding his deficiencies, of a very devout frame of mind, had in the preceding December made a more special divination. ‘There was one of his acquaintance went forth to a water at a good distance frae him upon the ice, and had fallen in; and he, at that instant of time, gave warning of it by a sign.’ On another occasion, when the Dumb Laird was sitting in his own house at Duntreath, ‘two of his neighbours falling out at two miles’ distance from him, the one striking the other with a whinger in the arm, he, in the same instant of time, makes a sign of it.’

It was a general belief that many persons born deaf and dumb possessed this supposed gift of clairvoyance or second-sight. One, attended by another man, coming to the Boat of Balloch, at the foot of Loch Lomond, and seeing a salmon-net drawing in, signed that there were five fish in it, and one of them with a hook in its mouth, indicating the hook by crooking his finger and putting it in his check. ‘The other man, being curious to know the truth of it, causes reckon the fishes, and see if any of them had a hook; and it was found so as it was signed by the dumb man, He tells the fishers what the dumb man had signed, and they gave the dumb man one of them.’—Law.

At Colzium House, the seat of Sir Archibald Edmondstone of Duntreath, there is a portrait of his predecessor, the Deaf and Dumb Laird, presenting an aspect of intelligence much beyond what could have been anticipated regarding one subject to so great an infirmity. It is a tradition in the family that, in early life finding himself much overlooked on account of his inability to communicate, and being in particular left at home when the rest went to church, he was found one day, on the family returning from worship, sitting among the horses in the stable. When his mother let him know that this conduct excited surprise, he imparted to her by such means as were at his command, that, seeing himself treated as if he were something leas than a human being, he had thought it only right and proper that he should place himself in the society of the animals which had the same deficiency as himself. The reproach was felt, and he was thenceforth treated more on a footing of equality, and allowed to go to church with the rest of the family.

The public mind being again morbidly excited about witchcraft, the usual result of a fresh crop of cases—a witch-storm, it may be called—ensued. In the beginning of this month, a serving-woman, named Lizzy Mudie, was burnt at Haddington for witchcraft. Her mistress, Margaret Kirkwood, had, hanged herself in her own house on a Sunday forenoon, while the people were at church. Lizzy on that occasion made some disturbance, by running aloud over the numbers, one, two, three, &c., till she came to fifty-nine, when she cried: ‘The turn is done!’ It being found that Margaret Kirkwood, whose age was fifty-nine, had ended her life at that moment, Lizzy was taken up on suspicion, and examined for witch-marks. These were found upon her, and she confessed herself to be a witch. She also delated five other women (two of them midwives) and a man, as likewise guilty of witchcraft, relating particular circumstances of their alleged guilt; but they denied all. Fountainhall says: ‘I did see the man’s body searched and pricked in two sundry places, one at the ribs, and the other at his shoulder. He seemed to find pain, but no blood followed... The marks were bluish, very small, and had no protuberancy above the skin.’ He adds, with regard to the official pricker: ‘I remained very dissatisfied with this way of trial, as most fallacious; and the fellow could give me no account of the principles of his art, but seemed to be a drunken foolish rogue.’

The trade of a pricker of witches, which had some time before been a regular and a prosperous one, was beginning to fall under suspicion among the authorities. One Cowan, of Tranent, who had learned the art from ‘Kincaid, a famous pricker,' was complained of by one Catherine Liddel, before the Privy Council, about this time, for subjecting her to the process on suspicion of witchcraft; and he was by that tribunal condemned to prison during their pleasure. It fully appears, indeed, that the present rulers of Scotland, while so ruthless towards religious dissenters, were more enlightened and humane than any of their predecessors in the matter of necromancy. While introducing the use of torture in the one case, they discontinued it in the other. They did, indeed, as we see, still allow of witch prosecutions; but this perhaps it was beyond their power to resist, and it must be admitted in their favour that the requirement of voluntary confessions was a great step in the right direction. On the other hand, the fact of voluntary confessions being so often made, where death was the certain consequence, and where a stout denial usually seems to have saved the accused, is one of a highly remarkable character, and which might give scope to some interesting speculations. One remark forcibly occurs regarding such cases, that the accused must have had intentions towards necromantic results and a full conviction of their possibility, if not of their occurrence; consequently must have felt guilty.

One of the persons accused by Lizzy Mudie was Marion Phin, a woman of eighty years of age, living in Haddington. Being consequently thrown into jail, she lay there three months in a most miserable condition, suffering much, we presume, from the severity of the treatment, so unsuitable to her great age, and also distressed by the loss of her good name, she having hitherto ‘lived always under a good report, never being stained with the least ignominy, far less with the abominable crime of witchcraft.’ ‘It were hard,’ she said in a petition to the Privy Council, ‘that, being of so known integrity, she should suffer upon the account of such lying accusers, who may and ordinarily do blunder the best of God’s servants.’ Her petition for being liberated on caution (August 10) was not yielded to by the Council. They contented themselves for the meantime with ordering the commission for her examination to proceed with their duty.

The Florida, a large vessel of the Spanish Armada of 1588, carrying sixty guns, bad been blown up and sunk in the Bay of Tobermory, in the island of Mull: an old and consistent tradition represents it as having come to this fate by means of Smollett of Dumbarton, presumed to have been the ancestor of the celebrated novelist The guns, treasure, and other valuable things, known or supposed to have been on board, made the incident a memorable one, and induced a desire, if possible, to weigh up the vessel, or at least to fish up from it such things as might be accessible to divers. In the seventeenth century, the recovery of sunk vessels and their contents was a favourite project among ingenious and adventurous men. The late Marquis of Argyle had obtained from the Duke of Lennox, Lord High Admiral of Scotland, a formal gift of this vessel, and had become ‘clad with possession’ by taking guns and other things out of it. In 1665, a more vigorous attempt was made to get up some of its treasures by the present Earl of Argyle, the immediate operator being, apparently, Maule of Melgum, a Forfarshire gentleman, who had invented an apparatus precisely of the nature of what was a century later revived as the Diving-bell. Another person engaged in the business was the almost sole active cultivator of physics in Scotland during this age—the celebrated George Sinclair, professor of philosophy in the University of Glasgow— who also obliged the world some years later with a treatise, entitled Satan’s Invisible World Discovered. Sinclair tells us that on this occasion they brought up three pieces of ordnance, one of brass, one of copper, and one of iron, two of which were eleven feet in length, and more things might have been recovered but for the coming on of tempestuous weather. He says they were surprised to find that the bullets employed for these guns were of stone, instead of metal.

Hearing of these experiments of the Earl of Argyle, the eminent lawyer, Sir George Lockhart, prompted the Duke of York to claim the property as the present Lord High Admiral; and so there arose a litigation on the subject. Various arguments were presented against Argyle’s right, particularly that to make possession complete it was necessary that he should have stirred the ship from the place where it was when his father got the gift. The earl himself appeared in court, and made a few remarks, shewing the large expense he had laid out on the discovery of the lost vessel, and concluding with a wish that it were brought above board ere any dispute took place about the property, ‘lest it should verify the story of the king of Spain’s gold.’ The court gave the case in favour of Argyle.

it is curious to find these two men engaged in such a plea only seven or eight years before standing in the relative positions of rebellious subject and vengeful sovereign. Still more curious it is to hear of this unpopular prince, that ‘he wrote down a very complimentary letter to Argyle, approving the justice of the lords’ sentence, and shewing his hearty compliance and acquiescence therein.’—Foun.

It is worthy of notice that after ‘unfortunate Argyle’ had passed from life—namely, in May 1686—a warrant was given by James VII. for a patent to William Harrington and three others, merchants of London, for enabling them to ‘weigh up, recover, and obtain from under water, in the roads and seas of Scotland, ships, or ship guns, treasure, and other goods, which have been shipwrecked, lost, and sunk, and particularly one ship of the Spanish Armada, sunk in the western seas of his majesty’s kingdom of Scotland ‘—the patent to endure for fourteen years.

Oct 1
The Egyptians or gipsies still roamed in a lawless manner over the country, without attracting much notice from the authorities, their conduct being now probably less troublesome than it had been in the reign of King James. Two bands of these people, the Faws and the Shaws, on their way from Haddington fair to Harestanes, in Peeblesshire, where they expected to meet and fight two other tribes, the Bailies and Browns, fell out among themselves at Romanno about the spoil they had lately acquired, and immediately engaged in battle. ‘Old Sandie Faw, a bold and proper fellow,’ and his wife, then pregnant, were killed on the spot, while his brother George was very dangerously wounded. The Laird of Romanno apprehended ‘Robert Shaw; Margaret Faw, his spouse; James, Patrick, Alexander, and Thomas Shaws, their sons; and Helen Shaw, their daughter; Robert and John Paws; John Paw younger; Agnes and Isobel Shaws; Isobel Shaw younger; and George Faw, and did commit them prisoners within the Tolbooth of Peebles;’ whence they were speedily removed to Edinburgh to be tried. We soon after find the Council despatching a warrant to the Laird of Romanno and Mr Patrick Purdie, to send to Edinburgh ‘the
money, gold, gold rings, and other things which were upon these persons;’ likewise the weapons with which they had fought. An account of expenses sent by the magistrates of Peebles was disallowed, excepting only £15 Scots (£l, 6s. 8d. sterling) for the sustenance of the company while in jail.—P. C. R.

In February next year, ‘Old Robin Shaw’ and his three sons were hanged in the Grassmarket for this murder, and John Faw was executed in the following week for another murder. Two or three years after, the Laird of Romanno—a quaint physician named Pennecuik, who wrote verses—erected a pigeon-house on the scene of the conflict, with this inscription over the door:

‘The field of gipsy blood which here you see,
A shelter for the harmless dove shall be."

Nov 3
A great fire took place in Glasgow, by which a large part of the Saltmarket on both sides was burnt It commenced near the Cross, through the instrumentality of a smith’s apprentice, who being beaten by his master, set the workshop on fire at night, and fled. This conflagration was considered an equal calamity to that of 1652. It threw between six and seven hundred families out of their homes, in a ruined and starving condition.
—P. C. R. ‘The heat was so great, that it fired the horologe of the Tolbooth. There being some prisoners in it, of whom the Laird of Carsland [Kersland] was one [who had been confined in various jails for eight years on account of his concern in the Pentland rising], the people broke open the doors, and set them free. Great was the cry of the poor people, and lamentable to see their confusion.’—Law.

The Town Council, in a minute of December 4, speak of ‘the great impoverishment this burgh is reduced to’ by the fire, which they regard as a just punishment from God for their iniquities, ‘which we pray him to mak us sensible of, that we may turn from the evil of our ways to himself, so his wrath may be averted.’ Yet, they go on to say, ‘because such things are more incident to burghs, by reason of their joining houses to houses... especially being reared up of timber, without so much as the window of stone,’ therefore the Council think it well to enact that whenever any of the people are in a condition to rebuild their houses, they shall rebuild them of stone.—M. of G. On a petition from the magistrates, the Privy Council ordered a charitable collection to be made throughout the country for the poor starving people.

It does not appear that the engine made in 1657 for quenching of fire was of any use on this occasion. It had probably been allowed to fall out of order, as in December 1680, we find an order from the Town Council to ‘see if it can be yet made use of in case of need.’—M. of G. In 1725, another fire-engine was got from London, at an expense of £50.—Stranq.

The late Laird of Ayton, in Berwickshire, had left an only daughter, under age, in the care of the Countess of Home. He had bequeathed to this young lady, Jean Home, his whole estate, though it was more customary in such cases in Scotland to destine land-property to the next heir-male. Home of Plendergast, who stood in that relation, was of course disappointed, but he hoped that a reparation might be made by the young lady marrying a member of his own family. When, in December 1677, the time approached for her choosing her curators—being then, we presume, twelve years of age—Plendergast presented a petition to the Privy Council, desiring that she should be brought as usual to their bar in order to pass through that ceremony in the presence of her general kindred. This gentleman, however, appears to have been in disfavour with the other gentlemen of his name in that province, as well as with the Countess of Home and Charles Home, the brother of the earl, with whom the young lady of Ayton at that time lived. On the evening of the very day when the petition was presented to the Council, Charles Home, accompanied by Alexander Home of Linthill, Sir Patrick Home of Polwarth, John Home of Ninewells, Robert Home of Kimmerghame elder, and Joseph Johnston of Hilton, proceeded to the residence of the young lady, and carried her off across the Border. ‘There they, in a most undutiful and unchristian manner, carried the poor young gentlewoman up and down like a prisoner and malefactor, protracting time till they should know how to make the best bargain in bestowing her, and who should offer most. They did at last send John Home of Ninewells to Edinburgh, and take a poor young boy, George Home, son to Kimmerghame, out of his bed and marry him to the said Jean, the very day she should have been presented to the Council.’ The ceremony was wholly irregular, and performed by an English minister, ‘opening thereby a new way to slight the clergy of Scotland.’ At the same time, the countess appeared before the Council, and apologised for the absence of her ward, ‘as being sickly and tender, and not able to travel, and not fit for marriage for many years to come.’

The Council took this matter up in high style, and dealt with the offending parties in strict terms of the statutes which they had broken. The young husband lost his interest jure mariti; the young wife hers jure relictae. The former was fined in £500 Scots, and the latter in a thousand merks, for their clandestine marriage. Further, for contempt of the Council, the young wife was fined in a thousand merks, to be paid to Home of Plendergast. Ninewells and Hilton suffered amercement respectively in 1000 and 2000 marks, the former sum to be paid to Plendergast. The young couple were, moreover, to suffer three months’ imprisonment in Edinburgh Castle.—P. C. R.

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