Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of William and Mary: 1689 - 1694 Part 5

1693, Feb 2
Though Scotland had long enjoyed the services of four universities, the teaching of any of the natural sciences was not merely unknown in the country, but probably undreamed of, till the reign of Charles II. The first faint gleam of scientific teaching presents itself about 1676, when, under the fostering care of Dr (afterwards Sir) Robert Sibbald, a botanic garden was established near the Trinity College Church, as a means of helping the medical men of Edinburgh to a better knowledge of the pharmacopmia. It was put under the care of James Sutherland, who had been a common gardener, but whose natural talents had raised him to a fitness for this remarkable position. In his little garden in the valley on the north side of the city, he taught the science of herbs to students of medicine for small fees, receiving no other encouragement besides a salary from the city of twenty pounds, which did not suffice to pay rent and servants’ wages, not to speak of the cost of new plants. At the time of the siege of Edinburgh Castle in the spring of 1689, it had been thought necessary, for strategic reasons, to drain the North Loch, and, as the water ran through the Botanic Garden, it came to pass that the place was for some days under an inundation, and when left dry, proved to be covered with mud and rubbish, so that the delicate and costly plants which Sutherland had collected were nearly all destroyed. It had cost him and his assistants the work of a whole season to get the ground cleared, and he had incurred large charges in replacing the plants.

At this date, the Privy Council, on Sutherland’s petition, took into consideration his losses, his inadequate salary, and the good service he was rendering, ‘whereby not only the young physicians, apothecaries, and chirurgeons, but also the nobility and gentry, are taught the knowledge of the herbs, and also a multitude of plants, shrubs, and trees are cultivated which were never known in this nation before, and more numerous than in any other garden in Britain, as weel for the honour of the place as for the advantage of the people.’ They therefore declared that they will in future allow Mr Sutherland fifty pounds a year out of fines falling to them, one half for expenses of the garden, and the other half by way of addition to his salary.

Apr, 13
Mr Stephen Maxwell, 'alleged to be a Romish priest,’ prisoner in Blackness Castle, Mr George Gordon, Mr Robert Davidson, and Mr Alexander Crichton, ‘also alleged to be popish priests,’ and prisoners in the Edinburgh Tolbooth, were ordered to be set at liberty, provided they would agree to deport themselves from the kingdom ‘in the fleet now lying under convoy of the man-of-war lying in the Road of Leith,’ and give caution to the extent of a hundred pounds that they would never return. On the 17th, Mr James Hepburn, ‘alleged to be a popish priest,' was ordered to be liberated from the Canongate Tolbooth on the same terms. All of these gentlemen had been for many months deprived of their liberty.

There still lay in Blackness Castle one John Seaton, who had been apprehended in December 1688, on suspicion of being a priest, and confined ever since, being four and a half years. He had been offered the same grace with the rest; but he was prevented by his personal condition from accepting it. According to his own account, he was seventy years of age. He ‘has not only spent any little thing he had, but his health is likewise entirely ruined, beyond any probability of recovery.’ He was most willing to have gone abroad, ‘where he might have expected better usage for ane in his condition than he can reasonably propose to himself anywhere in this kingdom;’ but ‘when the rest went away above a month ago, finding his health totally broken by sickness, old age, and imprisonment, and his infirmity still growing worse,’ he was ‘necessitat to continue prisoner, rather than hazard a long sea-voyage, ‘whereby he could expect no less than an unavoidable painful death, the petitioner, when formerly in health and strength at sea, being still in hazard. of his life.’ John Seaton farther represented that he had never, during his long imprisonment, received any support from the government, but been maintained by the charity of his friends. He now prayed the Council that they would take pity on him, and ‘not permit him, ane old sickly dying man, to languish in prison for the few days he can, by the course of nature and his disease, continue in this life; but let him retire to ‘some friend’s house, where he may have the use of some help for his distressed condition, and may in some measure mitigate the affliction he at present lies under by old age, sickness, poverty, and imprisonment.’

The Council ordered Seaton to be liberated.

For some time past there had been an unusual and alarming number of highway robberies. One case, of a picturesque character may be particularised. William M’Fadyen, who made a business of droving cattle out of Galloway and Carrick to sell them in the English markets, had received a hundred and fifty pounds sterling at Dumfries, and was on his way home (December 10, 1692), about four miles from that town, when at sunrise he was joined by two men, one in a gentleman’s habit, mounted on a dark-gray horse, with a scarlet coat and gold-thread buttons. He was of extraordinary stature, with his own hair, sad-coloured, ane high Roman nose, slender-faced, thick-lipped, with a wrat [wart] above one of his eyes as big as ane nut, and the little finger of his left hand bowed towards his loof’—a peculiarity, by the way, which the Duke of Lauderdale believed to denote a man who would come to some sad and untimely end. ‘The other appeared to be his servant, and was also mounted upon ane dark-gray horse, and carried a long gun.’ ‘After they had travelled about half a mile on the way, the servant said he was going through the muir, and desired [M’Fadyen] to go along with him, which he refused; whereupon he beat [M’Fadyen] with the but-end of his gun, and said he would make him go. Immediately thereafter, the other came up, and, presented a pistol to his breast; and so, after he had made what defence he was able, and had received several wounds, they carried him about a quarter of a mile off the way, and cut the cloak-bag from behind his saddle, and carried away his money.’

Among other steps taken by the Privy Council in consequence of this daring robbery, was to ‘recommend Sir James Leslie, commander-in-chief for the time of their majesties’ forces within this kingdom, to cause make trial if there be any such person, either officer or soldier, amongst their majesties’ forces, as the persons described.’ They sent the same recommendation to the Earl of Leven with regard to ‘the officers which are come over from Flanders to levy recruits.’

This seems to have put the military authorities upon their mettle, and they engaged a certain Sergeant Fae, of Sir James Leslie’s regiment, as a detector of the robbers, ‘upon his own expenses, except five pounds allowed him by the [Privy Council].' The sergeant, an enterprising fellow, with 'a perfect abhorance of such villainies.' went into the duty assigned him with such zeal and courage, that he soon, at the hazzard of his life, made seizure of several robbers, of whom two were convicted. Three months of this work having, however, exhausted his means, he was obliged to petition for further encouragement, and the Privy Council ordered him ten pounds for the past service, and five pounds for every robber whom he might apprehend, and who should be convicted in future.

Apr 11
A great number of the smaller lairds of Fife were Jacobite; among the rest, David Boswell of Balmouto. On the other hand, the Earl of Leven, one of the nobility of the county, stood high in office under the Revolution government. Besides a general quarrel with the earl on this ground, Balmouto had probably some private cause of offence to exasperate him; but on this point we only have conjecture.

At the date noted, there was a horse-race at the county town, Cupar; and both gentlemen attended. It is alleged that Balmouto first waited near a house in the town where the earl was, in expectation of his coming forth, but afterwards went away to the race-ground. There, as the earl was quietly riding about, Balmouto came up to him behind his back, and struck him twice or thrice over the head and shoulders with a baton. On his lordship turning to defend himself; the assailant struck the horse on the face, and caused it to rear dangerously. Balmouto then fired a pistol at the earl without effect, and was immediately seized by the bystanders, and prevented from doing further mischief.

In a debate before the Privy Council on this case, after hearing representations from both parties, it was held that the earl’s complaint was proved, while an attempt of Balmouto to make out a counter-charge of assault against Lord Leven was declared to have failed. Balmouto was obliged to beg the earl’s pardon on his knees, and, on pain of imprisonment, give caution for future good-behaviour.

On the ensuing 13th of March 1694, Balmouto is found representing to the Council that ‘his misfortune has been so great, that his friends are unwilling to interest themselves in his liberation, whereby his family is in hazard to be ruined, and himself to die in prison;’ and he craved that they would accept his personal obligation, and allow him his liberty. The Earl of Leven having concurred in desiring this, the petition was complied with.

A broadside published this month at Glasgow, under the title of the Scottish Mercury, ‘by Mr John Stobo, student in astrologophysick,’ being dated, however, ‘from Kirkintiloch, where I dwell,’ makes us aware that the alrnanac-making charlatanry was not unknown in Scotland. We learn from it that the French nation are near a sad calamity; that there were fears of conspiracies about Rome and Milan; and Constantinople not likely to be free from tumultuous uproars of the soldiery. ‘The conjunction of Venus with Jupiter relates to some great lady’s marriage.’ The author professes to ground upon natural causes, but not to conclude positively about anything—’ that belongs to God’s providence.’ Finally, there is an advertisement informing the world that John Stobo, as is known in many parts of this kingdom, cures infallibly all diseases, couches cataracts, amputates, &c., working for the poor gratis, and imposing upon the rich ‘as little cost as may be.’

June 14
To promote the making of linen in Scotland, an act was passed in 1686, ordaining that ‘no corps of any persons whatsoever be buried in any shirt, sheet, or anything else, except in plain linen,’ the relatives of deceased persons being obliged, under heavy penalties, to come to their parish minister within eight days of the burial, and declare on oath that the rule had been complied with.’ Another act was now passed, ordaining that, for the same end, no lint should be exported from the kingdom; that lint imported should be duty free; and making sundry arrangements for a uniformity in the breadth of the cloth produced. There was likewise still another act conferring particular privileges on two companies which carried on the linen manufacture in Paul’s Work, Edinburgh, and in the Citadel of Leith, as an encouragement which was required for their success.

An act was passed at the same time for encouraging James Foulis, John Holland, and other persons named, in setting up a manufactory of ‘that sort of cloth commonly called Colchester Baises’ in Scotland; ‘which baises will consume a great deal of wool which cannot be profitable neither at home nor abroad.’

On the same day, there was an act in favour of William Scott, cabinet-maker, who designed to set up a coach-work, being, as would appear, the first of the kind that had been proposed in Scotland, though the ‘use of the article 'not only occasions the yearly export of a great deal of money out of the kingdom, but likewise that the lieges cannot be furnished with such necessars when they have occasion for them, without bringing them from abroad at a double charge, beside sea-hazard.’ It was ordained that William Scott should have the privileges of a manufactory ‘for making of coaches, chariots, sedans, and calashes, barnish and grinding of glasses,’ for eleven years.

On the 28th May 1694, articles of agreement were concluded between Nicolas Dupin, acting for a linen company in England, and the royal burghs and others in Scotland, for the formation of a company to carry on the linen manufacture in this kingdom. It was arranged that the enterprise should rest in a capital of six thousand five-pound shares, one half of which should be held by Englishmen, the rest by Scotsmen, the burghs being each allowed certain shares in proportion to their standing and wealth. The money to be paid. in four instalments within the ensuing two years.

The linen manufacture is spoken of in 1696 as established, and two years later we find the bleaching was executed at Corstorphine.

Dupin conducted works in England and Ireland for the manufacture of paper, and the establishment of another in Scotland was one of the objects for which he had come to the north. Several of the Scottish nobility and gentry whom he met in London encouraged him in his enterprise, telling him that ‘some persons have already attempted to work good writing-paper, but could not effect the same.’ In July we find him addressing the Privy Council for permission to erect and carry on a paper-work in this kingdom, setting forth that he had arrived at ‘the art of making all sorts of fine paper moulds as good, or better, as any made. beyond seas, and at a far cheaper rate, insomuch that one man can make and furnish more moulds in one week than any other workman in other nations can finish in two months’ time:’ moreover, ‘whereas large timber is scarce in this kingdom,’ he and his associates ‘have arts to make the greatest mortar and vessel for making of paper without timber;’ they ‘have also provided several ingenious outlandish workmen to work and teach their art in this kingdom.’

On this shewing, Dupin and his friends obtained ‘protection and liberty to set up paper-mills in this kingdom, without hindering any other persons who are already set up;’ also permission ‘to put the coat of arms of this kingdom upon the paper which shall be made by them at these mills.’

By an act of Estates two years later, Dupin’s project was sanctioned as a joint-stock concern.

A rope-manufactory had been some years before established at Newhaven by James Deans, bailie of the Canongate, and one of his sons; but it had been discontinued for want of encouragement, after a considerable loss bad been incurred. In November 1694, Thomas Deans, another son of the first enterprise, expressed himself as disposed to venture another stock in the same work, at the same place, or some other equally convenient, provided he should have it endowed with the privileges of a manufactory, though not to the exclusion of others disposed to try the same business. His wishes were complied with by the Privy Council.

On the 7th May 1696, the privileges of a manufactory, according to statute, were granted by the Privy Council to Patrick Houston and his partners for a rope-work at Glasgow. This copartnery was to set out with a stock of forty thousand pounds Scots, and introduce foreign workmen to instruct the natives.

One David Foster bad set up a at Leith in 1683, and was favoured by the Privy Council with the privileges assigned by statute to manufactories. In January 1695, Foster being dead, his successor, James Forester, came forward with a petition for a continuance of these privileges, professing that he meant to ‘carry on the work to a further degree of perfection, and bring home foreigners to that effect.’ This request was complied with.

The parliament, in May 1695, granted privileges for the encouragement of James Lyell of Gairden, in setting up a manufactory of oil from seeds, and of hare and rabbit skins for hats, the raw materials having formerly been exported from the country and re-imported in a manufactured state. The Estates at the same time encouraged in like manner certain persons proposing to set up a gunpowder and an alum manufactory, the latter of which arts was stated to have been heretofore not practised in the kingdom.

In July 1697, we hear of the paper-manufactory going on prosperously under a joint-stock company, producing ‘good white paper,’ and only requiring a little further encouragement to be ‘an advantage to the whole kingdom.’ On the petition of the adventurers, the Lords of Privy Council ordained that candle- makers should not use rags for making of wicks, and that the company should have the same power over its instructed servants as had been given to the cloth-work at Newmills. We may infer that the paper-work establishe4 at Dalry in 1679 was no more, as this manufactory was now spoken of as the only one in the kingdom ‘that has either work or design for white paper.’

A pamphlet in favour of the African Company, in 1696, remarked that Scotland had lately been falling upon true and lasting methods of increasing her trade, by erecting companies ‘to manufacture our own natural commodities’ ‘thus we have the woollen-cloth manufactory at Newmills, and the baise-manufactory for our wool, the linen-manufactory, several for leather, and others.’ It was likewise remarked that ‘soap, cordage, glass, gilded leather, pins, ribands, cambrics, muslins, paper,’ and some other articles, which used to be brought from abroad, were now made at home by companies, individuals having heretofore failed to establish them.’

Dec 7
Alexander Hamilton, ‘formerly merchant in Ronen, now in Edinburgh,’ was about to set up ‘a bank or profitable adventure for the fortunate in the city of Edinburgh, of twenty-five thousand crowns, in imitation of that lately set up and finished at London with so great ane applause.’ It was to consist of ‘fifty thousand tickets, each ticket to be bot half ane crown.’ He had obtained a licence for it from the Master of Revels, and expended considerable sums ‘in making the books, publishing prints, and doing other things necessar.’ All that was now wanting was an exclusive privilege for six months from the Privy Council, lest he should be ‘prejudged in his undertaking or damnified by the expenses and charges thereof,’ from any other person setting up a similar adventure. This privilege was granted.

We learn from a prospectus addressed to the public by Hamilton, that the lottery was to include one ticket of each of the following sums, two hundred, three hundred, one thousand, fifteen hundred, two thousand, two thousand five hundred, and three thousand crowns, besides smaller prizes, of which a hundred at two hundred crowns were conspicuous. Provided the tickets were taken up in time, the drawing to take place in Alexander Crombie’s great room, opposite to the entry of the Parliament Close, on the 1st of March 1694.

1694, Jan 10
It is pleasant, amidst the general details of Scottish life at this period, to find that at least one of the civilising arts was beginning to assert its existence. A. man named Beck, with some associates, had now ‘erected a concert of music.’ We learn the fact in consequence of an attempt on the part of one Maclean, a dancing-master, holding the office of Master of the Revels in Scotland, to obtain a sum from the enterprisers for a licence to be taken out from him, ‘before they could set up and exact money, seeing his office was to inspect and regulate all games and sports, and see that nothing immoral or indecent should be allowed.’ The judges of the Court of Session refused to enforce Maclean’s claim, on the ground that music was only mentioned in his gift in connection with plays and puppet-shows, and that ’musicians were not subject to Masters of the Revels abroad,’ where the office was best known, and that Maclean only ‘used it to drain money from them, without restraining immoralities, if they paid him.’

Jan 11
The Privy Council had before them the case of Mr Thomas Blackwell, student of theology, lately chaplain to Lady Inglis of Cramond at Barnton House. He seems to have felt his spirit galled by some circumstances of his situation, his poor garret-lodging and attendance, the lady’s pedantry in criticising his prayers, the necessity of courting the parish clergyman, and so forth, and thus was provoked to pen a long and sorry pasquil in verse, purporting to be The Humble Advice of a Weel-wisher to all Dominies, in which he discharged his bile in sufficiently scurrilous terms. This libel he sent circuitously by the Glasgow carrier to Lady Cramond, who soon discovered his authorship, and taxed him with it. At first he made a solemn denial, but he afterwards owned his offence; and the lady now came for redress to the Privy Council. The young satirist made the most humble professions of penitence for his offence, but in vain. He was ordained by the Council to be banished from Scotland!

We find on the 20th February that Lady Cramond bad forgiven Thomas Blackwell, and he on his petition was consequently absolved from his former sentence.

Feb 1
Matthew Forsyth, cook and innkeeper in Edinburgh, represented to the Privy Council that he had been apprehended in September 1691, under cloud of night, by order of Bailie Robert Blackwood, and along with his wife thrown into the Tolbooth, ‘for what he knew not,’ and was detained there till the 11th of May 1692, ‘in a most miserable, penurious, and starving condition, he being put in the Iron House, and his wife in the Woman House.’ Though ‘the cold of the winter’ was well known to be ‘most violent,’ ‘they did not see any fire except a candle;’ and during the whole time ‘they never got a bed, but lay on the cold floor.’ ‘Having no mean of subsistence, they were necessitat to sell the clothes off their backs to maintain them, and all they got in the day was two plack-loaves betwixt them [a plack being the third of a penny].' Meanwhile, the officers who apprehended them took from their house everything they had ‘for back, bed, or board,’ leaving nothing but ‘two great raxes [spits], a dropping-pan, and some chests and bedsteads.’ The entire value of what was taken away was not less than two thousand pounds Scots. Matthew had called on the magistrates to say what was at his charge; but they turned him over to the Privy Council, which again turned him to the Lords of Justiciary. These afterwards, finding that the magistrates would not proceed, ordered his liberation and that of his wife. Being reduced by this treatment to ‘extreme poverty,’ he was now unable to prosecute for redress, unless the Court of Session should put him upon their gratis-roll. At his petition, the Privy Council recommended the Court to extend to him this benefit.

On a subsequent occasion, June 7, 1694, Forsyth and his wife came before the Privy Council with a charge against the persons by whom he had been so severely treated, as also for defaming him as a resetter of stolen goods. It appeared that the whole affair arose from a suspicion entertained against him respecting a missing silver standish belonging to the Duke of Queensberry, and some other articles belonging to Cornet Drummond of Lord Newbottle’s dragoons. We see no trace of any legal attempt to substantiate this charge; nevertheless, Forsyth having failed to appear in order to make good his complaint, the Lords ordered him 1691. to be denounced rebel, searched for, and if found, committed to prison, ‘for contemptioll and disobedience,’ his movable goods to be forfeited, and his wife, in the meantime, to be ‘incarcerat.

Mar 8
A petition from the Commissioners of Supply for the county of Inverness to the Privy Council, sets forth the hardships they were subjected to by the failure of many to pay their shares of cess and other public burdens. The complaint referred more particularly to certain ‘inaccessible’ parts of the shire, as the Isle of Skye, Uist, Barra, and Raasay. All methods hitherto taken to enforce payment had proved ineffectual, for ‘when parties were sent out to intimate quartering, they must instantly return, seeing they can have no conveniency either for themselves or their horses; and when parties have been again sent to poind for cess or deficiency, the heritors always get intelligence, and drive away the cattle, and what further remains in their houses or on their land is of no value.’ Assistance was craved from the government troops to seize and imprison the heritors deficient, of whom M’Kinnon of M’Kinnon is mentioned as owing ‘for seven by-run [monthly] terms,' Kenneth Milquo in Uist for nine, and Donald M’Donald, brother to M’Donald of Slait, for twenty terms. The petition was complied with.

Another example of the difficulties of taxation in the Highlands in those times is afforded by a letter addressed, at Ruthven in August 1697, to some unknown person by twenty-five Strathspey gentlemen, remonstrating against a claim for gratuitous coal and candle. The principal persons here concerned were William M’Intosh of Borlum, A. M’Pherson of Killichuntly, Alexander M’Pherson of Phones, J. M’Pherson of Benchar, J. Gordon in Kingussie, and William M’Pherson of Nuid. They say: ‘We understand by Borlum, our bailie, that you desire to know this day our resolutions anent the furnishing you coal and candle without payment. You know very weel how heavy that burden has lyen upon us, and that it has so exhausted us, that much of our country is wasted, and therefore we do assure you by these that we will not advance you any more coal and candle without pay, because there is no law for it, and you may as well take away all our property by force and violence, as impose upon us any taxes arbitrary without authority or law. Property and liberty is the thing we contend for against arbitrary power, and resolves to adhere to the act of Council and secretary’s letter in our favours, as the final resolutions of,,’ &c.

It is a great pity that we have not the name of the party addressed; but it may be suspected that it was that of a feudal superior, probably the Duke of Gordon. The language about liberty and property must have sounded strange in such ears from a set of Strathspey vassals.

Mar 24
Mr John Dysart was inducted, as minister of the parish of Coldingham, in place of the previous Episcopalian minister, Mr Alexander Douglas, who retired with a considerable number of the parishioners to worship in a barn near the church. Dysart, a man of strenuous opinions and great resoluteness of character, was determined to carry out the Presbyterian discipline with vigour. He caused a deputation to go to Mr Douglas and demand the pulpit Bible, communion-cups, baptismal-basin, the boxes for the collection or offertory, and the box for the communion-cloth and mortcloth [pall for funerals]; but Douglas seems to have considered himself entitled to retain most of these articles as private property, and only surrendered the box for the mortcloth. The existence of the dissenting body headed by this gentleman afterwards proved very troublesome to Mr Dysart, as it interfered sadly with that moral sway which he, as a properly constituted Presbyterian clergyman, and he alone, was entitled to exercise.

One of his first acts was the setting up of ‘a seat for scandalous persons to sit on when they appeared before the congregation.’ Here every lapse of virtue was duly expiated by exposure and rebuke. The general vigour of the minister’s discipline may be inferred from the fact that, in sixteen years, he held 1169 meetings of his little consistory or session, being at the rate of about one and a half per week. Every particular of private life was open to he investigated by this local inquisition. The elders made regular ‘visitations’ among the people. For example—’ The town was visited, and the visitors report that in William Spur’s house there were Gavin Dale in, this parish, and John Dale in the parish of Ayton, his brother, in time of divine service, at drink; and being reproved by the aforesaid elders for misspending the Lord’s Day, Gavin answered that their kirk (meaning the meeting-house set up and kept up in contempt of the government) was but just ‘now scaled [dismissed], and that they were but refreshing themselves. Elizabeth Cockburn, wife to William Spur, expressed her concernedness to the elders, that such a thing had fallen out in her house, and promised to the elders never to do the like. The session, considering the wickedness of the persons, and the disadvantage they [the session] are [under] by the said meeting-house by which they fortify themselves against censure, concluded to pass this, and to accept of the promise aforesaid from the woman, who seemed to be grieved for the offence.'

A large class of cases arose out of quarrels among neighbours. Elizabeth Trunnoch, spouse to John Paulin, had aggrieved Elizabeth Brotherstone, spouse of Archibald Anderson, by calling her a thief. Brotherstone complained to the session, and being summoned, and, according to rule, deposit ten groats, to be forfeited if she should fail in her probation. Trunnoch was interrogate whether she had called the complainer a thief. She answered: 'That she said that George Blair gave her the commendatinn of a thief by rubbing [robbing] away folk's eldin [fuel], and that she found something of it by taking away her heather at her door, and that she said it in a passion when the complainer had blamed her for worrying of a chicken of her's. After some interrogatories to both the parties, they were removed, and after some reasoning it was found that the complainer was equally guilty in scolding at the time, and if the one must be publicly rebuked before the congregation, the other must be also there rebuked. Two elders, Thomas Aitchison and John Smith, were sent out to confer with them, and to exhort them to take up their private quarrels, and to tell them that [as] the scolding was known to but a few, and so had not given offence to the public congregation, the session was willing that it should go no further. The elders having returned from them, [i. e.] Archibald Anderson and Elizabeth Brotherstone his wife, did report, that, say what they could, the foresaid Archibald insisted to have a rebuke given to Elizabeth Trunnoch before the congregation, and to have her fined for the fault. The session, having maturely considered the affair, cnncluded that Elizabeth Trunnoch should, upon her knees, before the session, be pardon of God for the sin of scolding and taking away her nelghbour's good name, and after being on her feet, she should crave the complainer’s pardon, and restore her her good name again. Likewise it was concluded that, seeing the complainer was equally guilty in scolding, she should, upon her knees, before the session, beg pardon of God for that sin. They being asked in, the sentence of the session was intimated to them, which was obeyed by both, as was appointed; which being done, they were gravely rebuked for their scandalous speeches one to another, and exhorted to agree better for the future, and to make conscience of bridling their tongues, certifying them that if they should be found guilty again of the like, they should meet with a more public reproof.’

Considering the style of public feeling which dictated and sanctioned such strictness, one is surprised at the character of the offences, as well as their frequency. How was it that, while such a view was taken of the Sunday, there were so many instances of breaking it by ‘gaming at the bob and penny game,’ by gathering fuel, cutting cabbage, drying nets, and rioting in public-houses. Why, while drunkenness was so hardly looked on, were there so many instances of it at all times of the week? Seeing, too, that the elders had so much power, how should it have been that one challenged by an elder with cabbage-gathering on a Sunday, answered insolently, ‘What have ye to do with it?’ and, ‘Who will nail my lug to the Tron for it?’ When society bore so generally a Christian tone, how happened it that William Dewar, farmer in Horsley, should have been so pagan-like as to take a lamb from his flock, and put its head on the top of his chimney, as a charm against the liver-crook in his flock? We must suppose that there was always in those days a great party in the opposition against the religious and moral authorities of the land, its force being what at once called forth and seemed to justify the severity we now remark upon with so much surprise. In short, the barbarous tendencies of the country were still very great.

Cases of imputed witchcraft occupied a large share of attention at the session of Coldingham. The parish had been rather remarkable for its witches. Soon after Mr Dysart’s induction as minister, Sir Alexander Home of Renton, an heritor of the parish, but notedly a weak man, wrote to Lord Polwarth, informing him of the late great increase of this offence in the district. His father, as sheriff, had at one time ‘caused burn seven or eight of them;’ but none had been apprehended since, and it was owing to ‘the slackness of judges’ that there were now so many of bad fame for that crime in the parish. ‘I know,’ says Sir Alexander, ‘your lordship is inclined to do justice,’ being of the now predominant professions in religion; so 'it is only proper for your lordship to take notice of it.’ He adds: ‘If some were apprehended, more would come to light;’ and he ends by offering to send a list. In September 1698, Mr Dysart got into great vigour about this class of cases. ‘Margaret Polwart, in Coldingham, having a sick child, was using charms and sorcery for its recovery; and Jean Hart, a suspected witch, was employed in the affair; and also Alison Nisbet, who bad been lately scratched, or had blood drawn above the breath, by some one who had suspected her of witchcraft. One of the witnesses declared, that she saw Jean Hart holding a candle in her left hand, and moving her right hand about, and heard her mutter and, whisper much, but did not understand a word that she said. Another declared, that "she (the witness) did not advise Margaret Polwart to send for Jean Hart; but she heard her say, That thief, Christian Happer, had wronged her child, and that she would give her cow to have her child better; and that witness answered, that they that chant cannot charm, or they that lay on cannot take off the disease, or they that do wrong to any one cannot recover them." Margaret Poiwart was publicly rebuked.’

Apr 20
Till this day, it could not be said that Great Britain had wholly submitted to William and Mary. For nearly three years past, one small part of it—situated within one-and-twenty miles of the capital of Scotland—had held out for King James; and it only now yielded upon good terms for the holders. This was the more remarkable, as the place was no ancestral castle, resting on the resources of a great lord, but, in reality, one of the state fortresses, which fortune had thrown into the hands of a few bold spirits, having no sort of authority to take or retain possession of it.

The place in question was that singular natural curiosity, the islet of the Bass, situated a couple of miles off the coast of East Lothian, in the mouth of the Firth of Forth. As well known, while rising a column of pure trap straight out of the sea, it shelves down on one side to a low cliff, where there is a chain of fortificatious, with a difficult landing-place underneath. The late government had employed this fortalice as a state-prison, chiefly for troublesome west-country clergymen. After the Revolution, the new government sent some of Dundee’s officers to undergo its restraints. On the 15th of June 1691, while most of the little garrison were employed outside in landing coal, four of these prisoners, named Middleton, Halyburton, Roy, and Dunbar, closed the gates, and took possession of the fortress. Next evening, they were joined by Crawford younger of Ardmillan, with his servant and two Irish seamen. The Privy Council at Edinburgh was greatly enraged, but it had no means of reducing the place. It could only put a guard on the shore to prevent intercourse with the land, and make a couple of armed boats cruise about to intercept marine communications.

Months elapsed. The Jacobite garrison led a merry life amidst the clouds of sea-birds which were their only associates. There was no lack of stirring adventure. Young Ardmillan went off in a boat, and brought in a load of provisions. Others contrived to join them, till they were sixteen men in all. A Danish galliot came under their guns one day, ignorant of what had happened, and was sacked of all it contained. Predatory boat-parties, which went out by night, laid all the coast between the Tyne and the Tay under contribution. The government, for a time, seemed powerless. The island was too far from the land to be thence bombarded; ships’ cannon could not mark at its cliff-built towers. The garrison, having plenty of ammunition, were on their own part formidable. After an ineffectual beleaguerment of upwards of two years, a small war-vessel called the Lion, with a dogger of six guns, and a large boat from Kirkcaldy, came to cruise off the island; but by this time their friends in France were interested in their welfare, and in August 1693, a frigate of twelve guns came up to the Bass, and anchored under its cannon. At sight of it, the government vessels disappeared. Large succours were thus given. Some months after, a Dunkirk privateer came in like manner, but was attacked by the Lion, and beaten.

The only very painful occurrence for the besieged was the seizure of a person named Trotter, who had supplied them with provisions. To frighten them, his execution was ordered to take place at Castleton, in sight of the isle. While the preparations were making, a shot from the Bass broke up the assemblage, but did not prevent the sacrifice being made at another place.

It was not till the spring of this year that the measures of the government for cutting off supplies from the Bass began sensibly to tell upon the besieged. When reduced to a point near starvation, and treating with the enemy, Middleton and his companions contrived still to appear well off, and full of good spirits. When the commissioners came to the rock, the governor gave them what apeared a hearty lunch of French wine and fine biscuit, telling them to eat and drink freely, as there was no scarcity of provisions. On their departure, he had the walls bristling with old muskets, with hats and coats, as if there had been a large garrison. The consequence was, that the cavaliers of the Bass finally came off with life, liberty, and property—even with payment of their arrears of aliment as prisoners—and, it is needless to say, the unmixed admiration and gratitude of the friends of King James.

May 3
The Hon. William Livingstone of Kilsyth, after enduring almost every form of captivity for several years, was now at length liberated, along with the Lord Bellenden, both on similar conditions—namely, that they should leave their native land for ever within little more than a month, under security to the extent of a thousand pounds sterling each, and engage thereafter in no movement of any kind against the existing government. We hear of the two gentlemen soon after asking a short respite, as the Dutch vessel in which they had hired a passage from Leith for Holland, was not yet ready to sail; and this grace they obtained, but only till the vessel should be ready.

Livingstone, in his forlorn voyage, was accompanied by his wife, Jean Cochran; of the Ochiltree family, and the widow of Lord Dundee. This union had happened about a year after Killiecrankie, in consequeuce of Mr Livingstone meeting the lady on a visit at Colzium House, in Stirlingshire. As a pledge of his love, he presented her with a ring, which, unluckily, she lost next day while walking in the garden. This was considered an evil omen. A reward was offered to any one who should find the bijon, but all in vain.

The pair now went with their only child, an infant, to Rotterdam. One afternoon, the lady attended the Scotch church there, when Mr Robert Fleming, the minister, was officiating. This is a divine of some celebrity, on account of a singular work he pubhshed in 1701 on The Rise and Fall of the Papacy, in which he announced the likelihood that the French monarchy would experience a humbling about the year 1794. On the present occasion, if we are to believe a story reported by Wodrow, he stopped in the middle of his discourse, and declared that ‘he was, he knew not how, impressed with the thought that some heavy and surprising accident was, within a few hours, to befall some of the company there present."

This vaticination, if it ever was uttered, was sadly fulfilled. That afternoon, Kilsyth, his wife, and another gentleman, went into the room where the child lay with its nurse, Mrs Melville. Suddenly, the roof, which was thickly covered with turf-fuel, fell down, and buried the whole party. Kilsyth and his male visitor got out alive and unhurt, after being under the ruins for three-quarters of an hour. The lady, the nurse, and child, were all found dead. The bodies of Lady Dundee and her infant were carefully embalmed, and sent to be interred in their own country.

Much interest was felt a century after, when it was announced (May 1795) that the body of this unfortunate lady and her babe had been found in perfect preservation in the vault of the Viscounts of Kilsyth in Kilsyth Church. Some idle boys, having made their way into the vault, tore up a lead coffin, and found a fresh one of fir within, enclosing the two bodies embalmed, and looking as fresh as if they were only asleep. The shroud was clean,. the ribbons of the dress unruffled, not a fold or knot discomposed: The child, plump, and with the smile of innocence arrested on its lips, excited pity and admiration in every beholder. A patch on the lady’s temple concealed the wound which had caused her death. When the face was uncovered, ‘beautiful auburn hair and a fine complexion, with a few pearly drops like dew upon her face, occasioned in the crowd of onlookers a sigh of silent wonder;’ so says the contemporary account. There was no descendant of the family to enforce respect for these remains: the husband of the lady had, as Viscount Kilsyth, forfeited title and estate in the insurrection of 1715,’ and his name was no more. But after public curiosity had been satisfied, a neighbouring gentleman caused the vault to be again closed.

There was not yet an end to the curious circumstances connected with Dundee’s widow. The year after the discovery of the embalmed corpses in Kilsyth Church, a tenant of Coizium garden, digging potatoes, found a small glittering object in a clod of earth. He soon discovered it to be a ring, but at first concluded it was a bauble of little value. Remembering, however, the story of Lady Dundee’s ring, lost upwards of a century before, he began to think it might be that once dear pledge of affection, and soon ascertained that in all probability it was so, as within its plain hoop was inscribed a posy exactly such as the circumstances would have called for—Zours onlly & Ever. The lover and his family and name were all gone—his chosen lay silent in the firneral vault: but here was the voice of affection still crying from the ground, and claiming from another generation of men the sympathy which we all feel in each other’s purer emotions.

June 14
James Young, writer in Edinburgh, stated to the Privy Council that he had been at great pains and expense in bringing to perfection ‘ane engine for writing, whereby five copies may be done at the same time, which it is thought may prove not unuseful to the nation.’ He requested and obtained a nineteen years’ privilege of exclusively making this ‘engine’ for the public.

Young seems to have been a busy-brained man of the inventive and mechanical type, and as such, of course, must have been a prodigy to the surrounding society of his day. In January 1695, we find him again coming before the Privy Council, but this time in company with Patrick Sibbald, locksmith, the one as inventor, the other as maker, of a new lock of surprising accomplishments. It ‘gives ane account of how oft it is opened, and consequently may be very useful in many cases ‘—for example, ‘though the key were lost, and found by another person, it discovers if that person has opened the lock; if your servant should steal the key, and take things out of the room or cabinet, it discovers how oft they have done it; if you find one of your servants is dishonest, but know not whom to challenge, this lock may set you on the right man; if you have any rooms with fine furniture, pictures, glasses, or curiosities, if you desire your servants not to let any of their acquaintances in to see the room, lest they abuse or break anything in it, though you leave them the key, as in some instances it is necessary, yet this lock discovers if they break your orders, and how oft; if you be sick, and must intrust your keys to a servant, this lock discovers if he takes occasion when you are asleep, to look into your cabinet, and how oft.’ It was conceived that this clever lock ‘would be for the public good,’ if it were only ‘to frighten servants into honesty.’ Wherefore the inventor and maker had no hesitation in asking for an exclusive privilege of making it for fifteen years, at the same time agreeing that the price of the simplest kind should be not more than fifteen shillings sterling. The petition was complied with.

There was at this time at Grange Park, near Edinburgh, a house called the House of Curiosities, the owner of which made an exhibition of it, and professed to have new articles on view every month of the passing summer. A colloquy between Quentin and Andrew gives an account of it, from which it appears that one of the most prominent articles was the ingenious lock above described. Another was the afore-mentioned writing-engine, but now described as calculated to produce fifteen or sixteen copies by one effort with the pen, and so proving ‘an excellent medium between printing and the common way of writing.’ A third was thus described by Andrew: ‘They took me up to a darkened room, where, having a hole bored through the window, about an inch in diameter, upon which they had fixed a convex lens, the objects that were really without were represented within, with their proper shapes, colours, and motions, reversed, upon a white board, so that, it being a very clear sunshiny day, I saw men, women, and children walking upon the road with their feet upwards; and they told me, the clearer the day, it does the better.’ It may be inferred with tolerable confidence that this House of Curiosities was a speculation of James Young, the inventor of the lock and writing-engine.

It is curious to trace the feeling of strangeness expressed in this brochure towards scientific toys with which we are now familiar. Much is made of a Magical Lantern, whereby pictures of Scaramouch, Actmon, and Diana, and twenty others, ‘little broader than a ducatoon,’ are ‘magnified as big as a man.’ Eolus’s Fiddle, which, being hung in a window, ‘gives a pleasant sound like an organ, and a variety of notes all the day over,’ is descanted upon with equal gusto. ‘Sometimes it gives little or no satisfaction,’ Andrew admits; ‘but when I was there, it happened to do very well.’ There is also a very animated account of a machine for.telling how far you have travelled—the modern and well-known pedometer.

One of the articles for the month of June was of such a kind that, if reproduced, it would even now be original and surprising. It is a Horizontal Elastic Pacing Saddle—horizontal, because it had four pins to keep it level; elastic, because of four steel springs and pacing, because designed to make one have the sensation and experiences of pacing while in reality trotting. ‘I saw it tried by three or four gentlemen, who all gave good approbation of it.’

Another of the June articles serves to shew that the principle of the revolver is no new invention. It is here called David Dun’s Machine, being a gun composed of ten barrels, with forty breeches adapted to the ends of the barrels, ‘somewhat like that of a rifled gun.’ ‘The breeches are previously charged, and in half a minute you may wheel them all about by tens, and fire them through the ten barrels.’

Amongst the other articles now well known are—a Swimming belt—a Diving Ark, identical with the Diving Bell since re-invented—a Humbling Mirror, the object of which is to reflect a human being in a squat form—and the Automatical Virginalr, which seem neither more nor less than a barrel-organ with clock-work. ‘It plays only foreign springs, but I am told it might be made to play Scots tunes.’ There was also the now little-heard-of toy called Kircher’s Disfigured Pictures. A sheet of strangely confused colouring being laid down on a table, a cylinder of polished metal is set down in the midst of it, and in this you then see reflected from the sheet a correct picture of some beautiful object. ‘There happened to be an English gentleman there, who told it was one of the greatest curiosities now in Oxford College.’ It was a toy, be it remarked, in some vogue at this time among the Jacobites, as it enabled them to keep portraits of the exiled royal family, without apprehension of their being detected by the Lord Advocate.

Not long after, we find Young coming forward with an invention of a much more remarkable kind than either the detective-lock or the manifold writing-engine. He stated (July 23, 1696) that he had invented, and with great expense perfected, ‘ane engine for weaving, never before practised in any nation, whereby several sorts of cloths may be manufactured without manual operation or weaving-looms.’ He had ‘actually made cloth thereby, before many of the ingenious of this kingdom.’ He believed that this engine might, with due encouragement, prove highly useful, ‘especially for the trade to Africa and the Indies,’ and therefore petitioned the Privy Council for the privileges of a manufactory and for a patent right. The Lords complied with his request, giving him exclusive use of his machine for thirteen years.

On the 12th December 1695, Nicolas Dupin, whom we have seen engaged in preparations for the manufacture of linen and of paper in Scotland, comes before us in the character of a mechanical inventor. He professed, in association with some ingenious. artists; and after much cost and travel in foreign parts, to have ‘brought to perfection the yet never before known art and mystery, of drawing water out of coal-pits.’ ‘In twenty fathoms deep,’ says he, ‘we can raise in two minutes’ time a ton of water, provided the pit or sheft will admit of two such casks to pass one another.’ It was done easily, the work being performed ‘by the true proportions and rules of hydrostaticks, hydronewmaticks, and hydrawliacks." The machine was calculated to be useful for ‘all manner of corn-mills work, where water is scarce or frozen,’ for ‘we can grind by one man’s hand as much as any water-mill doth.’ It was adapted for draining of lochs or bringing of water to any place where water is wanting,’ and ‘for clearing of harbour-mouths from great rocks or sand.’ ‘In a short time, any vast weight that seems to be past lifting by men’s strength, this our engine shall lift by one man’s strength, more than twenty men shall do, being present altogether to the same lift.’ Our mechanist had also a smaller engine, with the same economy of power, for a more household sort of work, such as mincing of tallow for candles, ‘are very exact way of cutting tobacco,’ for cutting of tanner’s bark, &c., ‘without the assistance of either wind or water.’ Several noblemen and gentlemen were said to be ready to treat with the inventor for the draining of certain drowned coal-pits; but it was necessary, before such work was undertaken, that the engines should be protected by a patent. On his petition, the Privy Council granted a patent for eleven years.

Two years later (1696) Mr David Ross, son of a deceased provost of Inverness, succeeded, to his own satisfaction, in discovering a perpetuum mobile. He divulged his plan to certain persons, his neighbours, who consequently prepared to enter into a bond or oath, giving assurance that they should not, by word, write, or sign, divulge the secret before the inventor should obtain a patent, unless he should himself do so, or should be removed from the world, ‘in which it shall be both lawful and expedient that we discover the same."

July 10
We get an idea of what was at this time considered a fair price for land in proportion to rent in Scotland, from a case now before the Court of Session. Sir John Clerk of Pennecuik and Archibald Primrose of Dalmeny had bought the baronies of Nicolson and Lasswade at a roup or auction, the one estate at twenty-four, the other at twenty-two years’ purchase, which they afterwards represented as ‘a dear rate.’ There being a doubt as to the party who should receive the price, the purchasers would have to pay six per cent on the purchase-money, by way of interest, until that point was settled, while only realising about four per cent. for their outlay: hence they applied to the court for leave to consign the money—which was refused.

Among numberless symptoms of dissatisfaction with the church now established by law, one of a trivial yet characteristic nature occurred in this and the preceding month, when several students and others made a practice of interrupting the minister of Old Aberdeen by striking up the doxology in several corners of the church, at the moment he was pronouncing the benediction. In the charge brought against them, October 8, before the Privy Council, it was alleged that this must have been done merely to disturb the congregation and vex the minister, as being a Presbyterian, albeit they could not but know that Presbyterians do nowhere condemn the doxology, ‘which, where it is in use, is reverently regarded, and never offered to be interrupted by any good Christian.’ It was likewise alleged of the same young men that they were in the custom of offering affronts and indignities to the elders at their meetings ‘by hootings, bellowings, throwing of stones, and offering to rabble them when they walk on the streets.’

Three of the accused, having appeared and made submission, were absolved. The other three, not having appeared, were put to the horn, and their goods escheat.

Oct 13
Lord Lindsay’s regiment was now quartered in Glasgow, under the temporary command of Major James Menzies, whom, from his name, we may conclude to have been of Highland birth. Some of the towns-people had been apprehended by the major as deserters, and put into confinement, whence they claimed the protection of the magistrates, who quickly interceded in their behalf, requesting that the alleged culprits might be brought before them for an investigation of the case. This being pointedly refused by the major, the magistrates issued a formal edict demanding that the men might be produced; but this the major treated with the same contempt. They then sent a civil request for a conference on the case, and the major having consented, the provost, two bailies, and Mr Robert Park, the town-clerk, met Menzies and three of his captains in the town-clerk’s chamber.

The conference commenced with a request in gentle terms from the provost, that the people might be brought forward, and in this request Mr Park very civilly joined. An altercation then took place between the major and the town-clerk, the former calling the latter a fool, the latter in return calling the major an ass, who, then losing patience, struck the man of peace with his cane. A heavy blow of the fist of the town-clerk was instantly replied to by the major with a lunge of his sword, whereupon Mr Park fell dead at his feet.

There was immediately a great hubbub in the chamber, and it soon spread to the streets, into which Menzies rushed without hat or wig, and with the bloody sword in his hand. He called his men—he planted them three-deep across the chief line of street, to stop the mob, and, mounting his horse at the Gorbals, fled amain.

Mr Francis Montgomery, a member of the Privy Council, was in Glasgow at the time. He readily concurred with the magistrates in authorising three citizens to pursue the murderer. They were John Anderson of Dowhill, John Gillespie, merchant, and Robert Stevenson, glazier. As they travelled along the line of the Clyde on Menzies’s track, they were joined by Peter Paterson, late bailie of Renfrew. Anderson alone was armed; he had two pistols.

The unfortunate major was traced to the house of Rainhill, where, entering the garden, the pursuers soon found him. Gillespie, who had got one of Anderson’s pistols, accompanied by Stevenson, advanced upon the murderer, who came up with a fierce countenance, asking what was the matter. Paterson told him there had been a man slain in Glasgow, and the murderer was supposed to be here: ‘If you be he,’ added Paterson, ‘may God forgive you ’ Menzies replied: ‘It is no business of yours;’ whereupon one of the others called out: ‘Dowhil, here is the man.’ Then the major, drawing his sword, and using a horrible imprecation, came forward, crying: ‘What have the rascals to do with me?’ The men retreated before him, and a pistol was fired in self-defence, by which Menzies was slain. When Paterson returned a minute after, he found him lying on his back, dead, with his drawn sword across his breast.

Strange to say, Henry Fletcher, brother of Lord Salton, and Lieutenant-colonel Hume, for the interest of his majesty’s forces, raised a prosecution against the three Glasgow citizens for murder. It ended in a verdict of Not proven.

Previous to 1705, when the first professor of anatomy was appointed in the university of Edinburgh, there were only a few irregular attempts in the Scottish capital to give instructions in that department of medical education. We first hear of dissection of the dead body in our city in the latter part of the year 1694, a little before which time the celebrated Dr Archibald Pitcairn had left a distinguished position as professor of medicine in the university of Leyden, and marrying an Edinburgh lady, had been induced finally to settle there in practice. On the 14th October, Pitcairn wrote to his friend, Dr Robert Gray of London, that he was taking part in an effort to obtain subjects for dissection from the town-council, requesting from them the bodies of those who die in the correction-house called Paul’s Work, and have none to bury them. ‘We offer,’ he says, ‘to wait on these poor for nothing, and bury them after dissection at our own charges, which now the town does; yet there is great opposition by the chief surgeons, who neither eat hay nor suffer the oxen to eat it. I do propose, if this be granted, to make better improvements in anatomy than have been made at Leyderi these thirty years; for I think most or all anatomists have neglected or not known what was most useful for a physician.’

The person ostensibly moving in this matter was Mr Alexander Monteith, an eminent surgeon, and a friend of Pitcairn. In compliance with his request, the town-council (October 24) gave him a grant of the dead bodies of those dying in the correction-house, and of foundlings who die on the breast, allowing at the same time a room for dissection, and freedom to inter the remains in the College Kirk cemetery, but stipulating that he bury the intestines within forty-eight hours, and the remainder of the body within ten days, and that his prelections should only be during the winter half of the year.

Monteith’s brethren did not present any opposition to his movement generally; they only disrelished his getting the Council’s gift exclusively to himself. Proposing to give demonstrations in anatomy also, they preferred a petition to the town-council, asking the unclaimed bodies of persons dying in the streets, and foundlings who died off the breast; and the request was complied with, on condition of their undertaking" to have a regular anatomical theatre ready before the term of Michaelmas 1697.

Such were the beginnings of the medical school of Edinburgh.

Return to Book Index


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

comments powered by Disqus