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

1682, Feb 16
In the ensuing February, Peter was again in trouble. Alexander Dacs, owner of the paper-manufactory at Dairy Mills, complained that his privilege of making paper and playing-cards had been infringed by Peter Bruce and James Lithgow, who had clandestinely obtained a licence for a playing-card manufactory. They had likewise enticed away a workman named Nicolas de Champ, whom he had brought from France, and caused the abstraction from his work of some of his haircloths. The Council freed Peter and his associate from everything but the charge of taking away the haircloths, which they left to be dealt with by the ordinary judge.—P. C. R.

Altogether, Peter seems to have found great difficulty in preventing a sale of foreign cards. It was difficult to detect the importation of such articles. A package containing a quantity of them had lately been brought by the ship of one Adam Watt; and even the custom-house officer winked at its being smuggled ashore. Peter craved the Council (June 7, 1682) for general letters against the contraveners of his privilege; but the Council, apparently warned by the complaints about the Messrs Fountain, would only, on that occasion, agree to give warrant for particular cases. Afterwards (July 5), they gave a more general warrant, but still declaring that Bruce, in the event of making a wrong charge, should be liable to a fine.

Finally, persecuted out of Edinburgh, Peter betook himself to Glasgow, and tried to set up a paper-mill at Woodside, near that city; but here, too, he encountered a variety of troubles and oppressions, designed for the purpose of neutralising his monopoly of the manufacture of playing-cards, his builders failing in their engagements, his men being seduced away from him, his mill-course defrauded of water, and so forth. He complained to the Privy Council (January 6, 1685), and got a decree against his two chief persecutors, John Campbell and James Peddie, for a thousand merks as compensation for the injuries he had suffered. When everything else failed, Peter seems to have turned his religions professions to some account, as he is last seen acting as printer to the Catholic chapel and college at Holyrood—.where, doubtless, the Revolution gave him a disagreeable surprise.

Dec 26
The college youths renewed the demonstration of last year. ‘Their preparations were so quiet, that none suspected it this year. They brought [the pope] to the Cross, and fixed his chair in that place where the gallows stands. He was tricked up in a red gown and a mitre, with two keys over his arm, a crucifix in one hand, and the oath of the Test in the other. Then they put fire to him, and it burnt lengthy till it came to the powder, at which he blew up in the air.

‘At this tine, many things were done in mockery of the Test: one I shall tell. The children of Heriot’s Hospital, finding that the dog which kept the yards of that hospital had a public charge and office, ordained him to take the Test, and offered him a paper. But he, loving a bone better than it, absolutely refused it. They then rubbed it over with butter, which they called an Explication of the Test, in imitation of Argyle, and he licked off the butter, but did spit out the paper; for which they held a jury upon him, and, in derision of the sentence on Argyle, they found the dog guilty of treason, and actually hanged him.’ —Fours.

1682, Jan 16
Alexander Cockburn, the hangman of Edinburgh, was tried before the magistrates as sheriffs, for the murder, in his own house, of one Adamson or Mackenzie, a blue-gown beggar. The proof was slender, and chiefly of the nature of presumption—as, that he had denied Adamson’s being in his house on the alleged day, the contrary being proved, groans having been heard, and bloody clothes found in the house; and this evidence, too, was chiefly from women. Yet he was condemned to be hanged within three suns. One Mackenzie, whom Cockburn had caused to lose his place of hangman at Stirling, performed the office.— Foun.

Feb 11
Three men were drowned this day, by falling through the ice on the North Loch. ‘We have a proverb that the fox will not set his foot on the ice after Candlemas, especially in the heat of the sun, as this was at two o’clock; and at any time the fox is so sagacious as to lay his ear to the ice, to see if it be frozen to the bottom, or if he hear the murmuring and current of the water.’—Foun.

A strange story was circulated regarding a servant lass in the burgh of Irvine. Her mistress, the wife of the Honourable Major Montgomery, having had some silver articles stolen, blamed the lass, who, taking the accusation much amiss, and protesting her innocence, said she would learn who took those things, though she should raise the devil for it. The master and mistress let this pass as a rash speech; but the girl, being resolute, on a certain day ‘goes down to a laigh cellar, takes a Bible with her, and draws a circle about her, and turns a riddle on end twice from south to north, or from the right hand to the left hand, having in her hand nine feathers, which she pulled out of the tail of a black cock, and having read the 21st [psalm] forward, she reads backward chap. ix, verse 19, of the book of Revelation; he appears in a seaman’s clothing, with a blue cap, and asks what she would. She puts one question to him, and he answers it; and she casts three of the feathers at him, charging him to his place again; then he disappears. He seemed to her to rise out of the earth to the middle of his body. She reads the same verse backward the second time, and he appears the second time, rising out of the ground, with one leg above the ground; she asks him a second question, and she casts other three feathers at him, charging him to his place; he again disappears. She reads again the third time the verse backward, and he appears the third time with his body above
ground (the last two times in the shape of a black grim man in black clothing, and the last time with a long tail); she asks a third question at him, and casts the three last feathers at him, charging him to his place; and he disappears. The major-general and his lady, being above stairs, though not knowing what was a-working, were sore afraid, and could give no reason of it; the dogs in the city making a hideous barking round about. This done, the woman, aghast, and pale as death, comes and tells her lady who had stolen the things she missed, and they were in such a chest in her house, belonging to some of the servants; which being searched, was found accordingly. Some of the servants, suspecting her to be about this work, tells the major of it, and tells him they saw her go down to the cellar; he lays her up in prison, and she confesses as is before related, telling them that she learned it in Dr Colvin’s house in Ireland, who used to practise this.’ —Law.

Fountainhall relates this story more briefly as ‘a strange accident,’ and remarks that the divination per cribrum (by the sieve) is very ancient, having been practised among the Greeks. He is puzzled about her confession, as it may be from frenzy and hatred of life; but if the fact of the consultation can be proved, he is clear that it infers death.

Divination by a sieve was performed in this manner: ‘The sieve being suspended, after repeating a certain form of words, it is taken between the two fingers only, and the names of the parties suspected, repeated: he at whose name the sieve turns, trembles, or shakes, is reputed guilty of the evil in question.... It was sometimes practised by suspending the sieve by a thread, or fixing it to the points of a pair of scissors, giving it room to turn, and naming as before the parties suspected: in this manner Coscinomancy is still practised in some parts of England.’—Dernonologia. By J. S. F. London, 1827; p. 146.

‘Strange apparitions were seen in and about Glasgow, and strange voices and wild cries [were heard], particularly one night about the Deanside well, was heard a cry, Help, help!'—Law. Many such occurrences are noted about this time and for four or five years before. In March 1679, for instance, a voice was heard at Paisley Abbey, crying: ‘Wo, wo, wo—pray, pray, pray!’ Such reports reveal the excited state of the public mind and a general sense of anxiety under the religious variances of the time.

1682, Mar
Major Learmont, an old soldier of the Covenant, though only a tailor to his trade, was taken in his own house near Lanark, or rather in a vault connected with it which he had contrived for hiding. ‘It had its entry in his house, upon the side of a wall, and closed up with a whole stone, so close that none could have judged it but to be a stone of the building. It descended below the foundation of the house, and was in length about forty yards, and in the far end, the other mouth of it, was closed with feal [turf], having a feal dyke built upon it; so that with ease, when he went out, he shot out the feal and closed it again. Here he sheltered for the space of sixteen years, taking to it at every alarm, and many times hath his house been searched for him by the soldiers; but where he sheltered none was privy to it but his own domestics, and at length it is discovered by his own herdsman.’—Law.

Mar 9
Thomas Barclay of Collerine in Fife was a youth of eighteen, in possession of ‘an opulent estate,’ and likewise of a considerable jurisdiction in his county. His predecessors were loyalists; but Thomas himself, by the remarriage of his mother to Mure of Rowallan in Ayrshire, was, according to the allegation of his uncle John Barclay, in the way of being ‘bred up in a family of fanatical and disloyal principles, not being permitted to visit or be acquainted with his nearest relations and friends, and denied all manner of education suitable to his quality . . . . not being sent to college ‘—he had, moreover, been influenced to choose ‘curators altogether strangers to his family, of known disaffected and disloyal principles.’ It seemed, in John Barclay’s judgment, unavoidable in these circumstances that a supporter would be lost to his majesty’s interests, unless a remedy were provided.

It seems so far creditable to a government which has a good many sins at its charge, that, when this case came before the Duke of York and the Privy Council, on John Barclay’s petition, and both sides had been heard—namely, the uncle on one side, and the Lady Rowallan, with the three curators, Montgomery younger of Skelmorley, the Laird of Dunlop, and Mr John Stirling, minister of Irvine, on the other—they decided that the young Barclay was of age to act and choose curators for himself and that the defenders were not bound to produce him in court; thus frankly consenting that the young man should rest in the danger of being perverted from the loyalty of his family.—P. C. R.

A severe murrain commenced amongst the cattle, thought to be owing to the deficient herbage of the preceding year, and the heavy rains of the intermediate season. The support of cattle during winter was at all times a trying difficulty in those days of no turnip-husbandry; but on an occasion like this it was scarcely possible. It was remarked that the farmers had to cut heather for their beasts to lie upon, and pull the old straw out of the coverings of their houses to feed them with. The murrain lasted till May, when some tenants in the Highlands lost as many as forty cows by it.

Apr 13
A complaint presented to the Privy Council by Janet Stewart, servant to Mr William Dundas, advocate, set forth that James Aikenhead, apothecary in Edinburgh, took upon him ‘to compose and vent poisonous tablets,’ and ‘Mistress Elizabeth Edmonstoun, having got notice of these tablets, and that they would work strange wanton affections and humours in the bodies of women,’ sent James Chalmers for some of them, which she caused to be administered to the complainer, in presence of several persons, ‘as a sweetmeat tablet.’ Janet having innocently accepted of the tablet, ate of it, and in consequence ‘fell into a great fever, wherein she continued for twenty days, before anybody knew what was the cause of it; so that the poison has crept into her bones, and she is like never to recover.’

Fountainhall tells us that Janet would not have recovered, ‘had not Doctor Irvine given her an antidote.’ The Council remitted the case to the College of Physicians, as being skilled in such matters (periti in arte), ‘who,’ says Fountainhall, ‘thought such medicaments not safe to be given without first taking their own advice.'

May 3
A riot took place in the streets of Edinburgh, in consequence of an attempt to carry away, as soldiers to serve the Prince of Orange, some young men who had been imprisoned for a trivial offence. As the lads were marched down the street under a guard, to be put on board a ship in Leith Road, some women called out to them: ‘Pressed or not pressed?’ They answered: ‘Pressed,’ and so caused an excitement in the multitude. A woman who sat on the street selling pottery, threw a few sherds at the guard, and some other people, finding a supply of missiles at a house which was building, followed her example. ‘The king’s forces,’ says Fountainhall, ‘were exceedingly assaulted and abused.’ Under the order of their commander, Major Keith, they turned and fired upon the crowd, when, as usual, only innocent bystanders were injured. Seven men and two women were killed, and twenty-five wounded—a greater bloodshed than ‘has been at once these sixty years done in the streets of Edinburgh.’ One of the women being pregnant, the child was cut from her and baptised in the streets. Three of the most active individuals in this mob were seized and tried, but the assize would not find them guilty. The magistrates were severely blamed for their negligence and cowardice in this affair.

It gave origin to the well-known Town-guard of Edinburgh, for, under the recommendation of the Privy Council, and with the sanction of the king, it was agreed to raise a body of a hundred and eight men, to serve as a protection to the city in all emergencies. The inhabitants were taxed to pay for it, ‘some a groat, some fivepence, and the highest at sixpence a week;’ but this being found oppressive, the support of the corps, which cost 22,000 merks a year, was soon after put upon the town’s common good. Patrick Graham, a younger son of Graham of Inchbrakie, was appointed captain, at the dictation of the Duke of York, who, says Fountainhall, ‘would give a vast sum to have such a breach in London’s walls.’

Many who remember the Town-guard, with their rusty brown uniform, their Lochaber axes, and fierce Highland faces, as a curiosity of the streets of Edinburgh in their young days, will be perhaps unpleasingly surprised to learn that the corps was originally an engine of the government of the last Stuarts. Captain Graham, who was a sincere loyalist by blood, being descended from the Inchbrakie who sheltered Montrose on his commencing the insurrection of 1644, figured with his guards on various occasions during the remainder of the Stuart reigns, particularly at the bringing in of the Earl of Argyle to be executed in 1685, when he and the hangman received the unhappy Maccallummore at the Watergate, and conducted him along the street to prison.

The Town-guard was disbanded in November 1817, by which time it had been reduced to twenty-five privates, two sergeants, two corporals, and two drummers.

May 6
The Gloucester frigate, on her voyage from London to Edinburgh with the Duke of York and his friends, and attended by some smaller vessels, was by a blunder wrecked on Yarmouth Sands. A signal-gun brought boats from the other vessels to the rescue of the distressed party, and the duke and several other men of importance were taken from the vessel, just before she went to pieces. A hundred and fifty persons, of whom eighty were men of quality, including the Earl of Roxburgh, the Laird of Hopetoun, Sir Joseph Douglas of Pumpherston, and Lord O’Brian of the Irish peerage, were drowned. Sir George Gordon of Haddo, president of the Court of Session, and who had just received the high appointment of Chancellor of Scotland, escaped by leaping into the water, whence he was drawn by the hair of the head into a boat. The Earl of Roxburgh had been heard crying for a boat, and offering twenty thousand guineas for one. His servant in the water took him on his back, and was swimming with him to a boat, when a drowning person clutched at them, and the unfortunate earl fell off and perished, his servant barely escaping for the moment, and dying an hour after. The duke and the rest of the survivors arrived in Leith next day, without further accident.

‘The pilot, one Aird, of Borrowstounness, was threatened with hanging for going to sleep and giving wrong directions . .. . he was condemned to perpetual imprisonment.’—Foun.

It is remarkable that the widow of the Earl of Roxburgh survived him in widowhood for seventy-one years, dying in 1753.

June 13
Sir Alexander Lindsay of Evelick—an ancient castle on the a high grounds overlooking the Carse of Gowrie—had married as a second wife the widow of Mr William Douglas, ‘the advocate and poet." Both had children approaching maturity, and William Douglas, the lady’s son, became very naturally the playfellow of Sir Alexander’s heir Thomas. Whether jealousy on account of the superior prospects of Thomas Lindsay had entered William Douglas’s heart, we cannot tell; but the two boys being out one day in the Den of Pitrodie, a romantic broomy dell near Evelick, Douglas was tempted to stab Lindsay with a clasp-knife, and so murder him.

The wretched boy gave a confession next day, fully admitting his guilt. It commences thus: ‘I have been over proud and rash all my life. I was never yet firmly convinced there was a God or a devil, a heaven or a hell, till now. To tell the way how I did the deed my heart doth quake [and] head ryves. As I was playing and kittling at the head of the brae, I stabbed him with the only knife which I have, and I tumbled down the brae with him to the burn; all the way he was struggling with me, while I fell upon him in the burn, and there he uttered one or two pitiful words. The Lord Omnipotent and all-seeing God learn my heart to repent.’ On this occasion, ‘he also produced the little knife called Jock the leig, with ane iron haft.’

Being on the ensuing day brought before the sheriff-court of Perth, it was there alleged against him that ‘he did conceive ane deadly hatred and evil [will] against Thomas Lindsay, son to Sir Alexander Lindsay of Evelick, with a settled resolution to bereave him of life; he did upon the thretteen day of this instant month, being Tuesday last, about seven hours in the afternoon or thereby, as he was coming along the Den of Pitrodie in company with the said Thomas Lindsay, fall upon the said Thomas, and with his knife did give him five several stabs and wounds in his body, whereof one about the mouth of his stomach, and thereafter dragged him down the brae of the den to the burn, and there with his feet did trample upon the said Thomas lying in the water, and as yet he not being satisfied with all that cruelty which he did to the said Thomas, he did with a stone dash him upon the head, so that immediately the said Thomas died.’

To the great concern of his friends, the boy now retracted his confession, alleging that he found Thomas Lindsay lying in the burn, and in trying to help him up had fallen upon him. The trial was consequently postponed to a future day. Meanwhile his friends exerted themselves to bring back the culprit to a sense of his guilt, and after a few days, they seem to have succeeded. On the 25th of June, his mother is found writing to the Laird of Balhaivie, a cousin of the murdered youth, relating how she had been witness to the power of God in changing the heart of the obstinate. ‘In a very little,’ says she, ‘after you went to the door, he rose up in such a passion of grief and sorrow, crying out in such bitterness, rapping on the table, and cursing the hour it entered into his head to recant, and promised through the Lord’s strength, nothing should persuade him to do it again, but that he should constantly affirm the truth of his first declaration. He took out the declaration the devil had belied him to write, and cried to cast it in the fire, with so much sorrow and tears, as he took his head in his hand and said he feared to distract [become distracted], and prayed that the Lord would help him in his right judgment, that he might still adhere to truth. This,’ continues the wretched mother, ‘was some consolation to my poor confounded mind; but when I consider that deceitful bow the heart, and his frequent distemper, my spirit fails.... I desire you and the rest of your worthy friends no to pit yourself to needless charges in the affair, for I, his nearest relation, being not only convinced justice should be satisfied, but am desirous nothing may occur to hinder. And as I know, though both he and I hath creditable friends, they will be ashamed to own me in this. The good God that best knows my pitiful case bear [me] up under this dismal lot, and give you and all Christians a heart to pray for him, and your poor afflicked servant, Rachel Kirkwood.’

The Laird of Balhaivie seems to have entered kindly into the lady’s feelings. His answer contains a few traits highly characteristic of the time. ‘Much honoured madam, as soon as Sir Patrick Threipland] gave me account yesternight of your son’s second confession, I went alongs with Sir Patrick and saw him, and I swear to outward appearance he seemed very serious, and I pray God Almighty continue him so My cousin, young Evelick, and all his relations are very sensible of your ladyship’s extraordinary and wonderful good carriage in ane affair so astounding as this has been, and ye renew it in your letter, wherein ye desire they should not be put to needless trouble and charges in the affair. The truth is, madam, there is none of us but are grieved to the bottom of our hearts that we should be obliged to pursue your son to death; but we keep evil consciences if we suffer the murder of so near a relation to go unpunished; and his life for the taking away of the other’s is the least atonement that credit and conscience can allow. His dying by the hand of justice will be the only way to expiate so great a crime, and likewise be a means to take away all occasion of grudge which otherwise could not but continue in the family....'

The youth was brought to trial in Edinburgh, and condemned to suffer death on the 4th of August. After the trial, he confessed that it was he who in the January preceding ‘put fire in Henry Graham’s writing-chamber, out of revenge, and that he had first stolen some books there.’ He was subjected to a new trial for this crime, because, being treason, it would have inferred a forfeiture of his estate, worth upwards of £2000; but on this occasion he retracted his confession, nor could any thing prevail with him to renew it judicially. The jury, who were honest Edinburgh citizens, seeing that the design was to enrich certain courtiers at the expense of the sisters of the young homicide, acquitted him of the new charge, to the great irritation of the king’s advocate, who ‘swore that the next assizers he should choose should be Linlithgow’s soldiers, to curb the phanaticks.'

July 5
The magistrates of Dumfries had a man called Richard Storie in their jail, on a charge of murder, and were put to great charges in keeping and guarding him, because several of his friends from the Borders daily threatened to force the prison and permit him to make his escape ‘if he shall remain any longer there.' It was therefore found necessary to order that Storie should be transferred by the sheriff under a sufficient guard to the next sheriff upon the road to Edinburgh, and so on to Edinburgh itself, where he should be placed in firmance in the Tolbooth.

There was the more reason for the magistrates of Dumfries being anxious about the detention of Richard Storie, that George Storie, an associate in his crime, had already escaped. These two men were accused of having basely and cruelly murdered Francis Armstrong in Alisonbank, in the preceding month of June. The witnesses being Englishmen, it was necessary (December 7, 1682) to recommend to the sheriff of Cumberland to take measures for insuring their appearance before the Court of Justiciary at the approaching trial. This proving ineffectual, the widow and six children of Francis Armstrong petitioned in March for further and more effectual efforts; and the lords agreed to address the English secretary of state on the subject.

Not long after (April 30, 1684), the Council was informed that, ‘by the throng of prisoners in the Tolbooth of Dumfries, the same has been already broken, and is yet in the same hazard.’ Being at the same time made aware ‘that, within the castle of Dumfries, there are some strong vaults fit for the keeping of prisoners,’ they gave orders to have these prepared for the purpose.

July 7
A poor Quaker, named Thomas Dunlop, had taken a house in Musselburgh, and was endeavouring by humble industry to support himself and his family, without being burdensome to any. But other Quakers came occasionally about him, to the annoyance of the magistrates of the town; and finding he broke a local law, in having no certificate of character from the minister of the parish in which he had last resided, they took advantage of the circumstance to get quit of him. Poor Thomas and his wife and little children were thrust out of their home into the fields, notwithstanding his entreaties for delay till he should get letters certifying his respectability from persons they knew. He had now been lodging for thirteen days and nights in the fields, the magistrates resisting all pleadings in his favour from charitable persons, and disregarding the misery which he was manifestly enduring. On his petition to that body which almost every week was sending recusant Whigs to the scaffold, they lent him a patient hearing, and summoned the Musselburgh magistrates before them; but all that the laws permitted them to do in the case, was to ordain that Thomas might have recourse to a legal action if the magistrates had not ‘removed him in ane orderly manner.’—P. C. R.

July 8
James Somerville, younger of Drum, riding home to that place from Edinburgh, found on the way two friends fighting with swords—namely, Thomas Learmont, son of Mr Thomas Learmont, an advocate, and Hew Paterson, younger of Bannockburn. These two young men had quarrelled over their cups. Young Somerville dismounted, and tried to separate them, but received a mortal wound from Paterson’s sword, though inflicted by the hand of Learmont, the two combatants having perhaps, like Hamlet and Laertes, exchanged weapons. The wounded man lived two days, and expressed his forgiveness of Learmont, who, by his advice, fled. ‘Some alleged his wounds were not mortal, but misguided.’ Somerville was the progeny of the marriage described as having taken place at Corehouse in November 1650. He left an infant son, who carried on the line of the family.Foun.

Aug 17
A comet began to appear in the north-west. ‘The star was big, and the tail broad and long, at the appearance of four yards.’ It continued visible for twenty days.—Law.

This was the celebrated Halley's Comet, so called in honour of the illustrious astronomer who first ascertained, by his calculations regarding it, the periodicity of comets. The same object had been observed by Kepler in 1607, and by Apian in 1531. ‘The identity of these meteors seeming to Halley unquestionable, he ventured to predict that the same comet would reappear in 1758, and that it would be found to revolve in a very elongated ellipse in about seventy-six years. As the critical period approached, which was to decide so momentous a question regarding the system of the world, the greatest mathematians endeavoured to track the comet’s course with a minuteness which Halley’s opportunities did not permit him to reach. The illustrious Clairhaut, feeling that a general prediction was not enough, undertook the most complex problem as to the disturbing effects of the planets through whose orbits it must pass.... He succeeded in predicting one of the positions for the comet for the middle of April; stating, however, that he might be in error by thirty days. The comet occupied the position referred to on the 12th of March.’—Nichol’s Contemplations on the Solar System.

It is humiliating to have to remark, that the notices of comets which we derive from Scotch writers down to this time, contain nothing but accounts of the popular fancies regarding them. Practical astronomy seems to have then been unknown in our country; and hence, while in other lands men were carefully observing, computing, and approaching to just conclusions regarding these illustrious strangers of the sky, our diarists could only tell us how many yards long they seemed to be, what effects were apprehended from them in the way of war and pestilence, and how certain pious divines ‘improved‘ them for spiritual edification. Early in this century, Scotland had produced one great philosopher - who had supplied his craft with the mathematical instrument by which complex problems, such as the movement of comets, were alone to be solved. It might have been expected that the country of Napier, seventy years after his time, would have had many sons capable of applying his key to such mysteries of nature. But not one had arisen—nor did any rise for fifty years onward, when at length Colin Maclaurin unfolded in the Edinburgh University the sublime philosophy of Newton. There could not be a more expressive signification of the character of the seventeenth century in Scotland. our unhappy contentions about external religious matters had absorbed the whole genius of the people, rendering to us the age of Cowley, of WaIler, and of Milton, as barren of elegant literature, as that of Horrocks, of Halley, and of Newton, was of science.

Nov 23
John Corse, Andrew Armour, and Robert Burne, merchants in Glasgow, were now arranging for the setting up of a manufactory ‘for making of damaties, fustines, and stripped vermiliones,’ expecting it would be ‘a great advantage to the country, and keep in much money therein which is sent out thereof for import of the same.’ Seeing ‘it undoubtedly will require a great stock and many servants, strangers, which are come and are to be sent for,’ the enterprisers deemed themselves entitled to have their work declared a manufactory, so that it might enjoy the privileges accorded to such by act of parliament. This favour was granted by the Council for nine years, ‘but prejudice to any other persons to set up and work in the said work.’—P. C. R.

Daniel Mure of Gledstanes, out of health and mental vigour, and believed to be on his death-bed, was induced to make a disposition of his estate to Thomas Carmichael of Eastend. Such a disposition, however, could not be valid by the law of Scotland, unless the testator appeared afterwards ‘at kirk and market’— an arrangement designed to insure that natural heirs should not be cheated. By ‘a most devilish contrivance’ of William Chiesley, writer in Edinburgh, Thomas Bell, Carmichael’s servant, was dressed up to personate the sick man, and taken with all due form to the public places appointed by the law. The notary before whom the man presented himself was so doubtful of his being Daniel Mure, that he caused him to take his oath that he was truly that person. When Carmichael and his man afterwards retired to a tavern with the notary, the latter once more expressed his doubt, saying: ‘This person is certainly not like Daniel Mure;’ to which Carmichael answered, that he was really the man, but much altered by sickness. On the death of Daniel Mure soon after, Carmichael accordingly appeared as the inheritor of the estate of Gledstanes, to the exclusion of Francis Mure, merchant in Edinburgh, the brother of the deceased. The affair was the more wicked, as the estate was one which had been long in Mure’s family.

Dec 21
On the whole matter being brought before the Privy Council by Francis Mure, the truth became clear, and Carmichael was punished by a fine of live thousand merks, whereof two thousand were assigned to Francis, as a compensation for the damage he had sustained; while Chiesley, the writer, was mulcted in three thousand merks for being accessory to the cheat. An obligation which Francis Mure had been induced to give to Carmichael, binding himself never to expose or pursue the forgery, was at the same time discharged. It is not unworthy of remark, that Chiesley, who had devised this forgery and drawn up the iniquitous obligation aforesaid, was one of those members of the legal profession who had refused, from scruples of conscience, to take the Test.—P. C. R.

Dec 23
Alexander Nisbet of Craigentinny and Macdougall of Makerston had gone abroad to fight a duel, attended by Sir William Scott of Harden and Douglas, ‘ensign to Colonel Douglas,’ as seconds. The Privy Council hearing of it, ordered the four gentlemen to be confined in the Tolbooth in different rooms, until it should be inquired into. The principals were, on petition, set at liberty in a few days, after giving caution for reappearance.—P. C. R.

1683, Jan 5
The widow of Andrew Anderson at this time carried on business in Edinburgh as the king’s printer, by virtue of a royal gift debarring others from exercising the like art. The bibles produced by her are said by Fountainhall to have been wretchedly executed. One David Lindsay having now got a similar gift, Mrs Anderson endeavoured to keep him out of the trade, setting forth that she had been previously invested with the privilege, and ‘one press is sufficiently able to serve all Scotland, our printing being but inconsiderable.' The Lords ordained that Mrs Anderson’s monopoly should be held as only including the printing of such things as had been specified in the gift to her husband’s predecessor Tyler.

There were at this time printers in Glasgow and Aberdeen, but probably no other part of Scotland—though St Andrews had had a press before the Reformation. The business of the printer has been of slow growth in our country. Edinburgh contained in 1763 only six printing-offices; in 1790, sixteen; there are, in 1858, sixty-two printing firms, besides several publishing offices, in which special printing work is executed.

Feb 1
It was represented to the Privy Council by the Bishop of Aberdeen that the Quakers in his diocese were now proceeding to such insolency, as to erect meeting-houses for their worship and ‘schools for training up their children in their godless and heretical opinions;’ providing funds for the support of these establishments, and in some instances adding burial-grounds for their own special use. The Council issued orders to have proper investigations made amongst the leading Quakers concerned and the proprietors of the ground on which the said meeting-houses and schools had been built—P. C. R

Apr 5
At the funeral of the Duke of Lauderdale at Haddington, while the usual dole of money was distributing among the beggars, one, named Bell, stabbed another. ‘He was apprehended, and several stolen things found on him; and, he being made to touch the corpse, the wound bled afresh. The town of Haddington, who it seems have a sheriff’s power, judged him presently, and hanged him over the bridge next day.’—Foun.

Apr 19
Alexander Robertson of Struan, whom we saw two years back breaking out with mortal fury against an agent of the Marquis of Athole in the chamber of the Privy Council, now comes before us in a more agreeable light—namely, as one seeking to cultivate an industrial economy in the midst of the vicious idleness and barbarism of the Highlands. Far up among the Perthshire alps, on the dreary shores of Loch Rannoch, there was then ‘a considerable wood,’ the property of Struan. This would have been useless to him and the country—being in so remote a wilderness—‘ if he had not, with great expenses and trouble, caused erect saw-mills, in which, these divers years past, there has been made the number of 176,000 deals.’ This had redounded ‘to the great benefit and conveniency of the country adjacent, besides the keeping of many persons at work’ who would otherwise have been idle and in wretchedness. Struan, however, could not obtain a market for the great bulk of his timber, without sending it in floats along Loch Rannoch, and down the water of Tummel into the Tay; and in this long and tedious passage, it was sometimes driven by storms and spates [floods] on shore, or on the banks of the rivers, where it was made prey of by the country people, ‘thinking they would be no further liable than to a dead spulyie.’ Occasionally, ‘louss and broken men’ attacked his mills in the night-time, and helped themselves to such timber as they wanted. ‘So that his work was likely to be broken and ruined.’ The Privy Council, on Struan’s petition, issued a strong edict for the prevention of these spoliations, and further gave him power to make roads between his saw-mills in Carrie and Apnadull, and to take a charge of those from Rannoch to Perth, so that he might have the alternative of land-carriage for his timber.—P. C. R.

The chance of getting the spoliations put down must have been very small, for thieving raged like a very pestilence in the Highlands. The Earl of Perth, writing from Drummond in July 1682, says expressively: ‘We are so plagued with thieving here, it would pity any heart to see the condition the poor people are in."

Sir Thomas Stewart of Coltness was obliged to fly to Holland, in consequence of a vague threat held out by Sir George Mackenzie, supposed to have been designed to frighten the unfortunate gentleman away, that his estate might be seized. The subsequent circumstances, as related, by his son, give a striking view of the troubles in which a Presbyterian family of rank might then be involved, even while making no active demonstrations against the government.

‘The day after he was gone, came one of the Lord Advocate’s emissaries, Irvine of Bonshaw, with a party of dragoons heated with fury and with liquor... They demanded the family horses, though their warrant bore no more than to apprehend the person of Thomas Stewart of Coltness; and when Irvine was told by Mr James Stewart, Coltness’s second son, that he was acting beyond orders in offering to seize horses or goods, he swore and blasphemed against rebels and assassins, and that any treatment was warrantable against such. The child Robert made some childish noise, and he threw down the boy of eight years old from a high leaping-on stone. The lady, seven months gone with child, came down to reason with him, but be was so much the more enraged. He offered to shoot the groom [who] stood behind, for denying the keys of the stable, and at length carried off the young gentlemen David and James’s horses... There was a complaint given in at Edinburgh, and the horses were returned, jaded and abused by ramblers. This Mr Irvine, some months after, in a drunken quarrel at Lanark, was stabbed to death on a dunghill by one of his own gang: a proper exit for such a blood-hound.’

The lady immediately displenished her house, and, notwithstanding the delicate state in which she was, prepared to follow her husband to Holland. Taking with her her step-son David, and a niece of three years, the child of Mr James Stewart, also an exile in Holland, she set sail from Borrowstounness in the beginning of June. The ship encountered a severe storm. ‘The sea was so boisterous, the lady was in danger of being tossed from her bed, and her step-son was alarmed, and got up - staggering in the hold, and bewailing; but she composedly said: "David, go to your cabin-bed, and be more quiet, for there is no back-door here to fly out by." In some days after, they got safe to harbour. They took the treck-scuit from Rotterdam to Utrecht, and a surprising accident happened by the way, and in the scuit close by her: a Dutch minister’s wife, a fellow-traveller and with child, miscarried and died instantly. The husband was as one distracted, and would not be persuaded she was dead, but in a swoon. He made lamentable outcries, but all to no effect. This was alarming to the lady, and made her reflect and acknowledge the kind Providence had preserved her and the fruit of her womb, when in danger both in the journey and ‘the stormy voyage. Coltness has a remark of thanksgiving on this in his diary, and concludes with this, "God makes our hymn sound both of mercy and judgment."

‘Her husband, with Mr Pringle of Torwoodlee, came half-way on to Leyden, and met these recent fugitives, and conducted them to Utrecht, where trouble was in part forgot, and sorrow in some measure fled, upon the first transports of being safe and together. Here was the ingenuous, upright Archibald Earl of Argyle, too virtuous for so licentious a court as that of King Charles. Here was the Earl of Loudon, who died anno 1684, and lies buried in the English church at Leyden. There was here the Lord Viscount Stair, and with him for education his son, Sir David Dalrymple, in better times Lord Advocate, and his grandson John, that great general under Queen Anne, and the ambassador of elegant figure in France, and a field-marshal under King George. Here was also Lord Melville, [who became] High Commissioner to the Restitution Parliament under King William, and secretary of state, and with him his son the Earl of Leven, who went to the king of Prussia’s service, and after this was commander-in-chief in Scotland, and governor of Edinburgh Castle in Queen Anne’s reign. But it were endless to name all the honest party of gentry and ministers, outlawed, banished, and forfaulted, for the cause of religion and civil liberty.’

In July, Lady Coltness brought into the world the person who relates the above particulars. ‘The occasion was joyful to the parents; but the mother had not the blessing of the breasts, and there was hard procuring a nurse for a stranger. This gave a damp; but a Dutch lady was so kind as wean her daughter a little sooner, and so a careful and experienced nurse was procured.’

'....Coltness fell in straits . . . . for he soon spent the little he brought with him, and remittances were uncertain and but small. His friends at home were under a cloud. Alertoun, his brother-in-law, was imprisoned and fined; Sir John Maxwell, his other brother-in-law, was fined £10,000 and imprisoned; and his younger children had none to care for them, but their grandmother, Sir James Stewart’s widow. She had a large jointure [that] was not affected, and acted the part of a kind parent In this present situation, the old widow lady could give little relief to those banished. It was chargeable supporting the expenses of a family in Holland, and all visible sources were stopped or withdrawn; yet a kind Providence raised up friends in a strange land. Of these the most sympathising was Mr Andrew Russell, merchant-factor at Rotterdam; he generously proffered money, and genteelly, as it were, forced it upon Coltness (and so he did to Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth, Mr James Stewart, advocate, and others), though he could have no probable prospect of recovering it; and yet all was thankfully repaid after the Revolution.’

‘In the end of 1684, Coltness removed to Rotterdam, and there he received many civilities and friendships from his countrymen, merchants, and others, and had some remittances, and in part provisions, transmitted in Scotch ships. Here he had much society of fellow-sufferers, and they had select meetings for conference and intelligence. The badge of such select club was a seal in wax, upon a bit of rounded card, with a blue ribbon and a knot, all in a small spale-box. I have seen Coltness’s ticket; the device was handsome, the motto Omne tulit punctum, the seal was upon a single spot of the heart suite card."

These severities against the Coltness family form a striking example of those now practised every day upon the known adherents of the more extreme Presbyterian views, and the whole would be quite unintelligible to a candid mind in our times, if we were not aware that, thirty years before, the party in which Sir Thomas Stewart’s father was a leader, were subjecting their dissidents to precisely similar treatment: see, for example, the case of the family of Menzies of Pitfoddels, fined, confiscated, driven from their native land and means of living, and the lady and one of her sons lost in a storm at sea; see the case of Dr Forbes of Corse, thrust from his college and country because he scrupled to subscribe the Solemn League and Covenant; his very bones refused burial in his own ground! It happened that, in the very same month which saw Sir Thomas Stewart’s family subjected to the harsh treatment above described, there was an application to the Privy Council regarding the sufferings of an Episcopalian family through two generations, in consequence of the rigours exercised partly under the dictation of Sir Thomas’s father. It is in the form of a petition from Mr John Ross, minister of Foveran in Aberdeenshire, and Mr Alexander Ross, parson of Perth. Their grandfather, Mr John Ross, parson of Birse in Aberdeenshire, had been turned out of his ministry in 1647, merely for his ‘opposition to the rebellious and seditious principles and practices which at that time had overspread the land.’ He was likewise ‘fined at several times in five thousand merks, and imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh for the space of nine months together, and forced to lend the sum of four thousand merks on the public bands, as they were called, for carrying on that unnatural war.’ He had ‘his house frequently plundered by the rebellious armies then on foot, so that [he} was prejudged in at least the sum of twenty thousand pounds Scots.’ Thus pillaged, and kept out of his ministry for thirteen years, he had both reduced to great straits, and left his family in poverty. The claim of the sufferer and his family was acknowledged at the Restoration by an order of two hundred pounds out of the vacant stipends; but it had never been paid. His eldest son, parson of Monymusk, the father of the petitioners, and who had likewise suffered for his loyalty, was kept poor all his days through the losses of his father, and had lately died, leaving a widow and eight children alive, besides the petitioners, with no means of support but what the petitioners could contribute. Here, in short, was a clerical family originally of some substance, reduced to poverty through the oppressions which had been exercised upon it by those now in their turn suffering, or their predecessors.’ In such facts there is certainly no valid excuse for the severities of the present time; but they tell us how these severities came to be practised. The reaction, however, from the Presbyterian reign of terror in the middle of the century was now beginning to strain and crack, and a settlement of the political pendulum was not far distant.

June 5
At the circuit court at Stirling, a man was tried for reviling a parson, ‘in causing the piper play The Deil stick the Minister. Sundry pipers were there present as witnesses, to declare it was the name of ane spring.’—Foun.

July 12
Captain Thomas Hamilton, merchant in Edinburgh, who had for some years carried on a considerable trade with the American plantations in the importation of beaver and racoon skins, craved and obtained privileges for a manufactory of beaver hats which he proposed to set up, being the first ever attempted in Scotland. He set forth his design as one which ‘will do no prejudice to any felt-makers,’ while it would benefit the kingdom by furnishing a particular class of articles ‘at easy rates.’ He expected also to be able to export his hats.—P. C. R.

Alexander Young, Bishop of Ross, ‘a moderate and learned man,’ being afflicted with stone, was obliged, like his predecessor in the like circumstances above a hundred years before,’ to travel to Paris for the purpose of having a surgical operation performed for his relief. Like his predecessor, also, he sank under the consequences of the operation.—Foun.

Sep 10
It was believed that much native copper existed in Scotland; yet all attempts at realising it by mining had failed. A German named Joachim Gonel, highly skilled in copper-mining, now proposed to the Privy Council to work a copper-mine in the parish of Currie with proper workmen brought from abroad, all at his own expense, provided only he got a present of the mine from the state. The Council, deeming such a work calculated to be useful to the public interest, recommended the government to comply with the request.—P. C. R.

At this time began a frost which lasted with great severity till March, ‘with some storms and snow now and then.’ ‘The rivers at Dundee, Borrowstounness, and other places where the sea ebbs and flows, did freeze, which hath not been observed in the memory of man before; and thereby the cattle, especially the sheep, were reduced to great want . . . . the like not seen since the winter 1674.’ —Foun.

This frost prevailed equally in England and Ireland, producing ice on the Thames below Gravesend. One remarkable circumstance arising from it is noted by a gentleman residing in London, that printing was hindered for a quarter of a year (by the hardening of the ink).

Patrick Walker speaks emphatically of this frost, and says: ‘Even before the snow fell, when the earth was as iron, how many graves were in the west of Scotland in desert places, in ones, twos, threes, fours, fives together, which was no imaginary thing! Many yet alive, who measured them with their staves, [found them] exactly the deepness, breadth, and length of other graves, and the lump of earth lying whole together at their sides, which they set their feet upon and handled with their hands. Which many concluded afterwards did presage the two bloody slaughter years that followed, when eighty-two of the Lord’s people were suddenly and cruelly murdered in desert places.’

‘An old minister, Mr Bennet, records in his manuscripts, that, before our late troubles [the Civil War], there were a number of graves cast open in a moor in the south.’—Law.

A scandal broke forth against Mr John M’Queen, one of the ministers of Edinburgh. It was alleged that, having fallen besottedly in love with Mrs Euphame Scott, who despised him, he contrived by a trick to obtain possession of one of her undergarments, out of which he made a waistcoat and pair of drawers, by wearing which he believed the lady would infallibly be induced to give him her affections. ‘He was suspended for thir fooleries; but in the beginning of February 1684, the bishop reponed him .‘—Foun.

If the Presbyterian satirists are not altogether fable-mongers, the bishop (Paterson) must have had a strong fellow-feeling for M’Queen. ‘He is said to have kissed his band-strings in the pulpit, in the midst of an eloquent discourse, which was the signal agreed upon betwixt him and a lady to whom he was suitor, to shew he could think upon her charms even while engaged in the most solemn duties of his profession. Hence he was nicknamed Bishop Band-strings."

It appears there were now two sugar-works in the kingdom, and only two—being placed at Glasgow—and one of them was in danger of being stopped in consequence of the death of Peter Gemble, one of the four partners, his widow refusing to advance her share of what was necessary for carrying on of the work. Materials, utensils, and men, to the extent of £16 sterling of wages monthly, were thus thrown idle—a general calamity. The Privy Council (December 20) enjoined the magistrates of ‘Glasgow to use their endeavours to get the difference composed and the work kept up.—P. C. R.

Dec 26
A dismally tragical incident occurred at the Hirsel, the seat of the Earl of Home near Coldstream. The earl having been long detained in London, the countess, to beguile the time during the Christmas holidays, had a party of the neighbouring gentlemen invited to the house. Amongst these were Johnston of Hilton, Home of Ninewells, and the Hon. William Home, brother of the earl, and the sheriff of Berwickshire—three gentlemen who, like the countess, have all been before us lately in connection with the abduction of the young Lady Ayton. Cards and dice being resorted to, and William having lost a considerable sum, a quarrel took place among the gentlemen, and Johnston, who was of a haughty and hot temper, gave William a slap in the face. The affair seemed to have been amicably composed, and all had gone to bed, when William Home rose and went to Johnston’s chamber, to call him to account for the affront he conceived himself to have suffered. What passed in the way of conversation between the two is not known; but certain it is that Home stabbed Johnston in his bed with nine severe wounds. Home of Ninewells, who slept near by, came to see what caused the disturbance, and, as he entered the room, received a sword-thrust from the sheriff; who was now retiring, and who immediately fled into England upon Johnston’s horse.

The unfortunate Hilton died in a few days. Ninewells recovered. The sheriff—of whom it was shudderingly remarked that this bloody fact happened exactly a twelvemonth after the execution of a Presbyterian rebel whom he had apprehended.— was never caught. He was supposed to have entered some foreign service, and died in battle. In advanced life, he is said to have made an experiment to ascertain if he could be allowed to spend the remainder of his days in his native country. A son of the slaughtered Johnston, while at a public assembly, ‘was called out to speak with a person, who, it was said, brought him some particular news from abroad. The stranger met him at the head of the staircase, in a sort of lobby which led into the apartment where the company were dancing. He told young Johnston of Hilton, that the man who had slain his father was on his death-bed, and had sent him to request his forgiveness before he died. Before granting his request, Johnston asked the stranger one or two questions; and observing that he faltered in his answers, he suddenly exclaimed: "You yourself are my father’s murderer," and drew his sword to stab him. Home— for it was the homicide himself—threw himself over the balustrade of the staircase, and made his escape.’

This year a great alarm was excited by a conjunction of the planets Saturn and Jupiter in the constellation of Leo. It was announced as an extraordinary conjunction, which had only happened twice before since the creation of the world; and ‘our prognosticators all spoke of it as very ominous,’ ‘portending great alterations in Europe.’ Mr George Sinclair, Professor of Natural Philosophy in Glasgow, considered it as nothing leas than ‘terrible.’ To add to the general uneasiness, some one brought out a treatise on comets, promising a further one under the title of Catastrophe Mundi. Fonntainhall was evidently puzzled, for from November 1682 to March 1683, the season had been ‘like a spring for mildness,’ and he really could not say whether such an event as this could be ascribed to the conjunction. Had he waited a little, he might have seen the matter in a clearer light, for in April there took place pestilential fevers, with other terrible and uncommon disorders. ‘In Montrose, several families were taken with an unco disease, like unto convulsion fits, their face thrawing about to their neck, their hands griping close together, so as the very nails of their fingers make holes in their looves; lose their senses, and have a devouring appetite, eat much, yet not satisfied.’—Law.

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