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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of William III: 1695 - 1702 Part 4

1697, Feb
Commenced an inquiry by a commission from the Privy Council into the celebrated case of Bargarram’s Daughter—namely, Christian Shaw, a girl of eleven years old, the daughter of John Shaw of Bargarran, in Renfrewshire. A solemn importance was thus given to circumstances which, if they took place now, would be slighted by persons in authority, and scarcely heard of beyond the parish, or at most the county. It was, however, a case highly characteristic of the age and country in which it happened.

In the parish of Erskine, on the south bank of the Clyde, stands Bargarran House, a small old-fashioned mansion, with some inferior buildings attached, the whole being enclosed, after the fashion of a time not long gone by, in a wall capable of some defence. Here dwelt John Shaw, a man of moderate landed estate, with his wife and a few young children. His daughter Christian had as yet attracted no particular attention from her parents or neighbours, though observed to be a child of lively character and ‘well-inclined.’

One day (August 17, 1696), little Christian having informed her mother of a petty theft committed by a servant, the woman broke out upon her with frightful violence, wishing her soul might be harled through hell, and thrice imprecating the curse of God upon her. Considering the pious feelings of old and young in that age, we shall see how such an assault of terrible words might well impress the mind of a child, to whom all such violences must have been a novelty. The results, however, were of a kind which could scarcely have been anticipated. Five days afterwards, when Christian had been a short while in bed, and asleep, she suddenly started up with a great cry, calling, ‘Help! help!’ and immediately sprung into the air, in a manner astonishing to her parents and others who were in the room. Then being put into another bed, she remained stiff and to appearance insensible for half an hour; after which, for forty-eight hours, she continued restless, complaining of violent pains through her whole body, or, if she dozed for a moment, immediately starting up with the same cry of irrepressible terror, ‘help ! help!’

For eight days the child had fits of extreme violence, under which she was ‘often so bent and rigid that she stood like a bow on her feet and neck at once,’ and continued without the power of speech, except at short intervals, during which she seemed perfectly well. A doctor and apothecary were brought to her from Paisley; but their bleedings and other applications had no perceptible effect. By and by, her troubles assumed a different aspect. She seemed to be wrestling and fighting with an unseen enemy, and there were risings and failings of her belly, and strange shakings of her whole body, that struck the beholders with consternation. She now began, in her fits, to denounce Catherine Campbell, the woman-servant, and an old woman of evil fame, named Agnes Naismith, as the cause of her torments, alleging that they were present in person cutting her side, when in reality they were at a distance. At this crisis, fully two months after the beginning of her ailments, her parents took her to Glasgow. to consult an eminent physician, named Brisbane, regarding her case. He states in his deposition,’ that at first he thought the child quite well; but after a few minutes, she announced a coming fit, and did soon after fall into convulsions, accompanied by heavy groanings and murmurings against two women named Campbell and Naismith; all of which he thonght ‘reducible to the effect of a hypochondriac melancholy.’ He gave some medicines suitable to his conception of the case, and for eight days, during which the girl remained in Glasgow, she was comparatively well, as well as for eight days after her return home. Then the fits returned with even increased violence; she became as stiff as a corpse, without sense or motion; her tongue would be drawn out of her mouth to a prodigious length, while her teeth set firmly upon it; at other times it was drawn far back into her mouth. Her parents set out with her again to Glasgow, that she might be under the doctor’s care; but as they were going, a new fact presented itself. She spat or took from her mouth, every now and then, parcels of hair of different colours, which she declared her two tormentors were trying to force down her throat. She had also fainting-fits every quarter of an hour. Dr Brisbane saw her again (November 12), and from that time for some weeks was frequently with her. He says:

‘I observed her narrowly, and was confident she had no human correspondent to administer the straw, wool, cinders, hay, feathers, and such like trash to her; all which, upon several occasions, I have seen her pull out of her mouth in considerable quantities, sometimes after several fits, and sometimes after no fit at all, whilst she was discoursing with us; and for the most part she pulled out those things without being wet in the least; nay, rather as if they had been dried with care and art; for one time, as I remember, when I was discoursing with her, she gave me a cinder out of her mouth, not only dry, but hot, much above the degree of the natural warmth of a human body.’ ‘Were it not,’ he adds, ‘for the hairs, hay, straw, and other things wholly contrary to human nature, I should not despair to reduce all the other symptoms to their proper classes in the catalogue of human diseases.’ Thereafter, as we are further informed, there were put out of her mouth bones of various sorts and sizes, small sticks of candle-fir, some stable-dung mingled with hay, a quantity of fowl’s feathers, a gravel-stone, a whole gall-nat, and some egg-shells.

Sometimes, during her fits, she would fall a-reasoning, as it were, with Catherine Campbell about the course she was pursuing, reading and quoting Scripture to her with much pertinence, and entreating a return of their old friendship. The command which she shewed of the language of the Bible struck the bystanders as wonderful for such a child; but they easily accounted for it. ‘We doubt not,’ says the narrator of the case, that the Lord did, by his good spirit, graciously afford her a more than ordinary measure of assistance.’

Before leaving Glasgow for the second time, she had begun to speak of other persons as among her tormentors, naming two, Alexander and James Anderson, and describing other two whose names she did not know.

Returned to Bargarran about the 12th of December, she was at ease for about a week, and then fell into worse fits than ever. She now saw the devil in various shapes threatening to devour her. Her face and body underwent frightful contortions. She would point to places where her tormentors were standing, wondering why others did not see them as well as she. One of these ideal tormentors, Agnes Naismith, came in the body to see the child, spoke kindly, and prayed God to restore her health; after which Christian always spoke of her as her defender from the rest Catherine Campbell was of a different spirit. She could by no means be prevailed on to pray for the child, but cursed her and all her family, imprecating the devil to let her never grow better, for all the trouble she had brought upon herself. This woman being soon after imprisoned, it seemed as if from that time she also disappeared from among the child’s tormentors. We are carefully informed that in her pocket was found a ball of hair, which was thrown into the fire, and after that time the child vomited no more hair.

The devil’s doings at Bargarran having now effectually roused public attention, the presbytery sent relays of their members to be present in the house, and lend all possible spiritual help. One evening, Christian was suddenly carried off with an unaccountable motion through the chamber and hall, down the long winding stair, to the outer gate, laughing wildly, while ‘her feet did not touch the ground, so far as anybody was able to discern.’ She was brought back in a state of rigidity, and declared when she recovered that she had felt as one carried in a swing. On the ensuing evening, she was carried off in the same manner, and borne to the top of the house; thence, as she stated, by some men and women, down to the outer gate, where, as formerly, she was found lying like one dead. The design of her bearers, she said, was to throw her into the well, when the world would believe she had drowned herself. On a third occasion, she moved in the same unaccountable manner down to the cellar, when the minister, trying to bring her up again, felt as if some one were pulling her back out of his arms. On several occasions, she spoke of things which she had no visible means of knowing, but which were found to be true, thus manifesting one of the assigned proofs of possession, and of course further confirming the general belief regarding her ailments and their cause. She said that some one spoke over her head, and distinctly told her those things.

The matter having been reported with full particulars to the Privy Council, the commission before spoken of was issued, and on the 5th February it came to Bargarran, under the presidency of Lord Blantyre, who was the principal man in the parish. Catherine Campbell, Agnes Naismith, a low man called Anderson, and his daughter Elizabeth, Margaret Pulton, James Lindsay, and a Highland beggar-man, all of whom had been described as among Christian’s tormentors, were brought forward and confronted with her; when it was fully seen that, on any of these persons touching her, she fell into fits, but not when she was touched by any other person. It is stated that, even when she was muffled up, she distinguished that it was the Highland beggar who touched her. The list of the culprits, however, was not yet complete. There was a boy called Thomas Lindsay, who for a halfpenny would pronounce a charm, and turn himself about wit liereltins, or contrary to the direction of the sun, and so stop a plough, and cause the horse to break the yoke. He was taken up, and speedily confessed being in paction with the devil, and bearing his marks. At the same time, Elizabeth Anderson confessed that she had been at several meetings with the devil, and declared her father and the Highland beggar to have been active instruments for tormenting Christian Shaw. There had been one particular meeting of witches with the devil in the orchard of Bargarran, where the plan for the affliction of the child had been made up. Amongst the delinquents was a woman of rather superior character, a midwife, commonly called Maggie Lang, together with her daughter, named Martha Semple. These two women, hearing they were accused, came to Bargarran, to demonstrate their innocence; nor could Christian at first accuse Maggie; but after a while, a ball of hair was found where she had sat, and the afflicted girl declared this to be a charm which had hitherto imposed silence upon her. Now that the charm was broken, she readily pronounced that Mrs Lang had been amongst her tormentors.

In the midst of these proceedings, by order of the presbytery, a solemn fast was kept in Erskine parish, with a series of religious services in the church. Christian was present all day, without making any particular demonstrations.

On the 18th of February—to pursue the contemporary narration—’ she being in a light-headed fit, said the devil now appeared to her in the shape of a man; whereupon being struck in great fear and consternation, she was desired to pray with an audible voice: "The Lord rebuke thee, Satan!" which trying to do, she presently lost the power of her speech, her teeth being set, and her tongue drawing back into her throat; and attempting it again, she was immediately seized with another severe fit, in which, her eyes being twisted almost round, she fell down as one dead, struggling with her feet and hands, and, getting up again suddenly, was hurried violently to and fro through the room, deaf and blind, yet was speaking to some invisible creature about her, saying: "With the Lord’s strength, thou shalt neither put straw nor sticks into my mouth." After this she cried in a pitiful manner: "The bee hath stung me." Then, presently sitting down, and untying her stockings, she put her hand to that part which had been nipped or pinched; upon which the spectators discerned the lively marks of nails, deeply imprinted on that same part of her leg. When she came to herself, she declared that something spoke to her as it were over her head, and told her it was Mr M. in a neighbouring parish (naming the place) that had appeared to her, and pinched her leg in the likeness of a bee.’

At another time, while speaking with au unseen tormentor, she asked how she had got those red sleeves; then, making a plunge along the bed at the supposed witch, she was heard as it were tearing off a piece of cloth, when presently a piece of red cloth rent in two was seen in her hands, to the amazement of the bystanders, who were certain there had been no such cloth in the room before.

On the 28th of March, while the inquiries of the commission were still going on, Christian Shaw all at once recovered her usual health; nor did she ever again complain of being afflicted in this manner.

The case was in due time formally prepared for trial; and seven persons were brought before an assize at Paisley, with the Lord Advocate as prosecutor, and an advocate assigned, according to the custom of Scotland, for the defence of the accused. It was a new commission which sat in judgment, comprehending, we are told, several persons not only ‘of honour,’ but ‘of singular knowledge and experience.’ The witnesses were carefully examined; full time was allowed to every part of the process, which lasted twenty hours; and six hours more were spent by the jury in deliberating on their verdict. The crimes charged were the purciet’s of several children and persons of mature age, including a minister, and the tormenting of several persons, and particularly of Bargarran’s daughter. It is alleged by the contemporary narrator, Francis Cullen, advocate, that all things were carried on ‘with tenderness and moderation;’ yet the result was that the alleged facts were found to be fully proved, and a judgment of guilty was given.

It is fitting to remember here, that the Lord Advocate, Sir James Steuart, in his address to the jury, holds all those instances of clairvoyance and of flying locomotion which have been mentioned, as completely proved, and speaks as having no doubt of the murders and torments afficted by the accused. He insisted strongly on the devil’s marks which had been found upon their persons; also on the coincidence between many things alleged by Christian Shaw and what the witches had confessed. From such records of the trial as we have, it fully appears that the whole affair was gone about in a reasoning way: the premises granted, everything done and said was right, as far as correct logic could make it so.

On the 10th of June, on the Gallow Green of Paisley, a gibbet and a fire were prepared together. Five persons, including Maggie Lang, were brought ont and hung for a few minutes on the one, then cut down and burned in the other. A man called John Reid would have made a sixth victim, if he had not been fonnd that morning dead in his cell, hanging to a pin in the wall by his handkerchief, and believed to have been strangled by the devil. And so ended the tragedy of Bargarran’s Daughter.

The case has usually, in recent times, been treated as one in which there were no other elements than a wicked imposture on her part, and some insane delusions on that of the confessing victims; but probably in these times, when the phenomena of mesmerism have forced themselves upon the belief of a large and respectable portion of society, it will be admitted as more likely that the maledictions of Campbell threw the child into an abnormal condition, in which the ordinary beliefs of her age made her Sincerely consider herself as a victim of diabolic malice. how far she might be tempted to put on appearances and make allegations, in order to convince others of what she felt and believed, it would be difficult to say. To those who regard the whole affair as imposture, an extremely interesting problem is presented for solution by the original documents, in which the depositions of witnesses are given—namely, how the fallaciousness of so much, and, to appearance, so good testimony on pure points of fact, is to he reconciled with any remaining value in testimony as the verifier of the great bulk of what we think we know.

About thirty years before this date, a certain Sir Alexander M’Culloch of Myreton, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, with two sons, named Godfrey and John, attracted the attention of the authorities by some frightfully violent proceedings against a Lady Cardiness and her two sons, William and Alexander Gordon, for the purpose of getting them extruded from their lands. Godfrey in time succeeded to the title, and to all the violent passions of his father; but his property was wholly compromised for the benefit of his creditors, who declared it to be scarcely sufficient to pay his debts. Desperate for a subsistence, he attempted, in the late reign, by ‘insinuations with the Chancellor Perth,’ and putting his son to the Catholic school in Holyrood Palace, to obtain some favour from the law, and succeeded so far as to get assigned to him a yearly ailment of five hundred merks (about £28) out of his lands, being allowed at the same time to take possession of the family mansion of Bardarroch. From a complaint brought against him in July 1689 before the Privy Council, it would appear that he intromitted with the rents of the estate, and did no small amount of damage to the growing timber; moreover, he attempted to embezzle the writs of the property, with the design of annihilating the claims of his creditors. Insufferable as his conduct was, the Council assigned him six hundred merks of aliment, but only on condition of his immediately leaving Bardarroch, and giving up the writs of the estate. Yielding in no point to their decree, he was soon after ordered to be summarily ejected by the sheriff.

There was a strong, unsubdued Celtic element in the Kirkcudhright population, and Sir Godfrey M’Culloch reminds us entirely of a West Highland Cameron or Macdonald of the reign of James VI. What further embroilments took place between him and his old family enemies, the Gordons of Cardiness, we do not learn; but certain it is, that on the 2d of October 1690, he came to Bush o’ Bield, the house of William Gordon, whom twenty years before he had treated so barbarously, with the intent of murdering him. Sending a servant in to ask Gordon out to speak with some one, he no sooner saw the unfortunate man upon his threshold, than ‘with a bonded gun he did shoot him through the thigh, and brak the bane thereof to pieces; of which wound William Gordon died within five or six hours thereafter.’

The homicide made his way to a foreign country, and thus for some years escaped justice. He afterwards returned to England, and was little taken notice of. William Stewart of Castle-Stewart, husband of the murdered Gordon’s daughter, offered to intercede for a remission in his behalf, if he would give up the papers of the Cardiness estate; but be did not accept of this offer. Perhaps he became at length rather too heedless of the vengeance that might be in store for him. It is stated that, being in Edinburgh, he was so hardy as to go to church, when a gentleman of Galloway, who had some pecuniary interest against him, rose, and called out with an air of authority: ‘Shut the doors—there’s a murderer in the house. When he was apprehended, and immediately after subjected to a trial before the High Court of Justiciary, and condemned to be beheaded at the Cross of Edinburgh. The execution was appointed to take place on the 5th of March 1697; but on the 4th he presented a petition to the Privy Council, in which, while expressing submission to his sentence, he begged liberty to represent to their Lordships, ‘that as the petitioner hath been among the most unhappy of mankind in the whole course of his life, so he hath been singularly unfortunate in what hath happened to him near the period of it.’ He thought that ‘nobody had any design upon him after the course of so many years, and he flattered himself with hopes of life on many considerations, and specially believing that the only two proving witnesses would not have been admitted. Being now found guilty, he is exceedingly surprised and unprepared to die.’ On his petition for delay, the execution was put forward to the 25th March.

Sir Walter Scott has gravely published, in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, a strange story about Sir Godfrey M’Culloch, to the effect that he had made friendship in early life with an old man of fairyland, by diverting a drain which emptied itself into the fairies’ chamber of dais; and when he came to the scaffold on the Castle Hill, this mysterious personage suddenly came up on a white palfrey, and bore off the condemned man to a place of safety. There is, however, too much reason to believe that Sir Godfrey really expiated the murder of William Gordon at the market-cross of Edinburgh. The fact is recorded in a broadside containing the unhappy man’s last speech, which has been reprinted in the New Statistical Account of Scotland. In this paper, he alleged that the murder was unpremeditated, and that he came to the place where it happened contrary to his own inclitiation. He denied a rumour which had gone abroad that he was a Roman Catholic, and recommended his wife and children to God, with a hope that friends might be stirred up to give them some protection. It has been stated, however, that he was never married. He left behind him several illegitimate children, who, with their mother, removed to Ireland on the death of their father; and there a grandson suffered capital punishment for robbery about the year 1760.

The Privy Council had an unpleasant affair upon its hands. Alexander Brand, late bailie of Edinburgh—a man of enterprise, noted for having introduced a manufacture of gilt leather hangings—had vented a libel under the title of Charges and Gratuities for procuring the additional fifteen hundred pounds of my Tack-duty of Orkney and Zetland, which was the surplus of the price agreed by the Lords, specifying sums of money, hangings, or other donatives given to the late Secretary Johnston; the Marquis of Tweeddale, late Lord High Chancellor; the Duke of Queensberry, then Lord Drumlaurig; the Earl of Cassius; the Viscount of Teviot, then Sir Thomas Livingstone; the Lord Basil Hamilton; the Lord Raith, and others.’ He had, in 1693, along with Sir Thomas Kennedy of Kirkhill and Sir William Binning, late provosts of Edinburgh, entered into a contract with the government for five thousand stands of arms, at a pound sterling each, which, it was alleged, would have allowed them a good profit; yet, when abroad for the purchase of the arms, he wrote to his partners in the transaction, that they could not be purchased under twenty-six shillings the piece; and his associates had induced the Council to agree to this increased price, the whole affair being, as was alleged, a contrivance for cheating the governinent. To obtain payment of the extra sum (£500), the two knights had entered into a contract for giving a bribe of two hundred and fifty guineas to the Earls of Linlithgow and Breadalbane, ‘besides a gratuity to James Row, who was to receive the arms.’ But no such sum had ever been paid to these two nobles, ‘they being persons of that honour and integrity that they were not capable to be imposed upon that way.’ Yet Kennedy and Binning had allowed the contract to appear in a legal process before the Admiralty Court, ‘to the great slander and reproach of the said two noble persons.’ In short, it appeared that the three contractors had proceeded upon a supposition of what was necessary for the effecting of their business with the Privy Council, and while not actually giving any bribes—at least, so they now acknowledged—had been incautious enough to let it appear as if they had. For the compound fault of contriving bribery and defaming the nobles in question, they were cast in heavy fines—Kennedy in £800, Binning in £300, and Brand in £500, to be imprisoned till payment was made.

Notwithstanding this result, there is no room to doubt that it had become a custom for persons doing business for the government to make ‘donatives’ to the Lords of the Privy Council. Fountainhall reports a case (November 23, 1693) wherein Lord George Murray, who had been a partner with Sir Robert M of Barnton in a tack of the customs in 1681, demurred, amongst other things in their accounts, to 10,000 merks given yearly to the then officers of state. ‘As to the donatives, the Lords of Session found they had grown considerably from what was the custom in former years, and that it looked like corruption and bribery: [they] thought it shameful that the Lords, by their decreet, should OWU ally such practice; therefore they recommended to the president to try what was the perquisite payment in wine by the tacksmen to every officer of state, and to study to settle  [the parties].'

From the annual accounts of the Convention of Royal Burghs it appears that fees or gratuities to public officers with whom they had any dealing were customary. For example, in 1696, there is entered for consulting with the king’s advocate anent prisoners, &e., £34, 16s. (Scots) ; to his men, £8, 14s.; to his boy, £1, 8s. Again, to the king’s advocate, for consulting anent the fishery, bullion, &c., £58; and to his men, £11. 12s. Besides these sums, £333, 6s. 8d. were paid to the same officer as pension, and to his men, £60. There were paid in the same year, £11, 12s. to the chancellor’s servants; £26, 18s. 4d. to the macen of the Council; and an equal sum to the macers of the Court of Session.

Apr 20
The Quakers of Edinburgh were no better used by the rest of the public than those of Glasgow. Although notedly, as they alleged, ‘an innocent and peaceable people,’ yet they could not meet in their own hired house for worship without being disturbed by riotous men and boys; and these, instead of being put down, were rather encouraged by the local authorities. On their complaining to the magistrates of one outrageous riot, Bailie Halyburton did what in him lay to add to their burden by taking away the key of their meeting-house, thus compelling them to meet in the street in front, where ‘they were further exposed to the fury of ane encouraged rabble.’ They now entreated the Privy Council to ‘find out some method whereby the petitioners (who live as quiet and peaceable subjects under a king who loves not that any should be oppressed for conscience’ sake) may enjoy a free exercise of their consciences, and that those who disturb them may be discountenanced, reproved, and punished? This they implore may be speedily done, ‘lest necessity force them to apply to the king for protection.’

The Council remitted to the magistrates ‘to consider the said represeutation, and to do therein as they shall find just and right.'

June 1
St Kilda, a fertile island of five miles’ circumference, placed fifty miles out from the Hebrides, was occupied by a simple community of about forty families, who lived upon barley-bread and sea-fowl, with their eggs, undreaming of a world which they had only heard of by faint reports from a factor of their landlord ‘Macleod,’ who annually visited them. Of religion they had only caught a confused notion from a Romish priest who stayed with them a short time about fifty years ago. It
was at length thought proper that an orthodox minister should go among these simple people, and the above is the date of his visit.

‘M. Martin, gentleman,’ who accompanied the minister, and afterwards published an account of the island, gives us in his book [A Voyage to St Kilda, &c., by M. Martin, Gent. 4th ed., 1753.] a number of curious particulars about a personage whom he calls Roderick the Impostor, who, for some years bypast, had exercised a religious control over the islanders. He seems to have been, in reality, one of those persons, such as Mohammed, once classed as mere deceivers of their fellow-creatures for selfish purposes, but in whom a more liberal philosophy has come to see a basis of what, for want of a better term, may in the meantime be callel cestatieism or hallucination.

Roderick was a handsome, fair-complexioned man, noted in his early years for feats of strength and dexterity in climbing, but as ignorant of letters and of the outer world as any of his companions, having indeed had no opportunities of acquiring any information which they did not possess. Having, in his eighteenth year, gone out to fish on a Sunday—an unusual practice—he, on his return homeward, according to his own account, met a man upon the road, dressed in a Lowland dress—that is, a cloak and hat; whereupon he fell flat upon the ground in great disorder. The stranger announced himself as John the Baptist, come direct from heaven, to communicate through Roderick divine instructions for the benefit of the people, hitherto lost in ignorance and error. Roderick pleaded unfitness for the commission imposed upon him; but the Baptist desired him to be of good cheer, for he would instantly give him all the necessary powers and qualifications. Returning home, he lost no time in setting about his mission. he imposed some severe penances upon the people, particularly a Friday’s fast. ‘He forbade the use of the Lord’s Prayer, Creed, and Ten Commandments, and in stead of them, prescribed diabolical forms of his own. His prayers and rhapsodical forms were often blended with the name of God, our blessed Saviour, and the immaculate Virgin, he used the Irish word Phersichin— that is, verses, which is not known in St Kilda, nor in the Northwest Isles, except to such as can read the Irish tongue. But what seemed most remarkable in his obscure prayers was his mentioning ELI, with the character of our preserver. He used several unintelligible words in his devotions, of which he could not tell the meaning himself; saying only that he had received them implicitly from St John the Baptist, and delivered them before his hearers without any explication.’ ‘This impostor,’ says Martin, ‘is a poet, and also endowed with that rare faculty, the second-sight, which makes it the more probable that be was haunted by a familiar spirit.'

He stated that the Baptist communicated with him on a small mount, which he called John the Baptist’s Bush, and which he forthwith fenced off as holy ground, forbidding all cattle to be pastured on it, under pain of their being immediately killed. According to his account, every night after he had assembled the people, he heard a voice without, saying: ‘Come you out,’ whereupon he felt compelled to go forth. Then the Baptist, appearing to him, told him what he should say to the people at that particular meeting. He used to express his fear that he could not remember his lesson; but the saint always said: ‘Go, you have it;’ and so it proved when he came in among the people, for then he would speak fluently for hours. The people, awed by his enthusiasm, very generally became obedient to him in most things, and apparently his influence would have known no restriction, if he had not taken base advantage of it over the female part of the community. Here his quasi-sacred character broke down dismally. The three lambs from one ewe belonging to a person who was his cousin-german, happened to stray upon the holy mount, and when he refused to sacrifice them, Roderick denounced upon him the most frightfnl calamities. When the people saw nothing particular happen in consequence, their veneration for him experienced a further abatement. Finally, when the minister arrived, and denounced the whole of his proceedings as imposture, he yielded to the clamour raised against him, consented to break down the wall round the Baptist’s Bush, and peaceably submitted to banishment from the island. Mr Martin brought him to Pabbay island in the Harris group, whence he was afterwards transferred to the laird’s house of Dunvegan in Skye. He is said to have there confessed his iniquities, and to have subsequently made a public recantation of his quasi-divine pretensions before the preshytery of Skye. [Macaulay's History of St Kilda, 1776, p. 241]

Mr Martin, in his book, stated a fact which has since been the subject of much discussion—namely, that whenever the steward and his party, or any other strangers, came to St Kilda, the whole of the inhabitants were, in a few days, seized with a severe catarrh. The fact has been doubted; it has been explained on various hypotheses which were found baseless: visitors have arrived full of incredulity, and always come away convinced. Such was the case with Mr Kenneth Macaulay, the author of the amplest and most rational account of this singular island. He had heard that the steward usually went in summer, and he thought that the catarrh might be simply an annual epidemic; but he learned that the steward sometimes came in May, and sometimes in August, and the disorder never failed to take place a few days after his arrival, at whatever time he might come, or how often so ever in a season. A minister’s wife lived three years on the island free of the susceptibility, but at last became liable to it. Mr Macaulay did not profess to account for the phenomenon; but he mentions a circumstance in which it may be possible ultimately to find an explanation. It is, that not only is a St Kildian’s person disagreeably odoriferous to a stranger, but ‘a stranger’s company is, for some time, as offensive to them,’ who complain that ‘they find a difficulty in breathing a light sharp air when they are near you.’

Apr 20
The Privy Council, in terms of the 27th act of Queen Mary— rather a far way to go back for authority in such a matter— discharged all printers ‘to print or reprint any pamphlets, books, or others, relating to the government, or of immediate public concern, until the same be seen, revised, and examined by the Earls of Lauderdale and Annandale, the Lord Advocate, Lord Anstruther, and Sir John Maxwell of Pollock,’ under heavy penalties.

Jun 17
Margaret Halket, relict of the deceased Mr Henry Erskine, late minister of Chirnside, petitioned the Privy Couiicil for the stipend of the bypast half year during which the parish had been vacant, she being ‘left in a verie low and mean condition, with four fatherless children no way provided for, and other burdensome circumstances under which the petitioner is heavily pressed.’ The petition was complied with.

This was the mother of the two afterwards famous preachers, Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine. The application of Mrs Erskine is given here as the type of many such, rendered unavoidable before the present humane arrangements in behalf of the surviving relatives of the established clergy.

July 13
James Hamilton, keeper of the Canongate Tolbooth, gave in a humble petition to the Privy Council, setting forth that ‘for a long while bygone’ he has ‘kept and maintained a great many persons provided for recruiting the army in Flanders.’ In this last spring, ‘the prisoners became so tumultuous and rebellious, that they combined together and assassinat the petitioner’s servants, and wounded them, and took the keys from them, and destroyed the bread, ale, and brandy that was in the cellar, to the value of eight pounds sterling.’ ‘Seeing the petitioner’s due as formerly is two shillings Scots per night for himself, and twelve pennies Scots for the servants for each person,’ in respect whereof he was ‘liable for ane aliment of twenty merks monthly to the poor, besides the expense of a great many servants,’ payment was ordered to him of
£837, 17s, for house-dues for the recruits, during a certain term, and £107, 8s. for damages done by the mutiny.’

In July 1697, in the prospect of a good harvest, the permission to import grain free of duty was withdrawn. About the same time, a great quantity of victual which had been imported into Leith, was, on inspection, found to be unfit to be eaten, and was therefore ordered to be destroyed.

On the 28th of December, the Privy Council was informed of a cargo of two hundred boils of wheat shipped in order to be transported to France, and, considering that ‘wheat is not yet so low as twelve pounds Scots per boll,’ it was proposed by the Lord Chancellor that it should be stopped; but this the Council thought ‘not convenient.’

Aug 3
The Master of Kenmure, Craik of Stewarton, and Captain Dalziel, son to the late Sir Robert Daiziel of Glenae, were accused before the Privy Council of having met in April last at a place called
Stay-the- Voyage, near Dumfries, and there drunk the health of the late King James under the circumlocution of The Old Man on the other Side of the Water, as also of drinking confusion to his majesty King William, these being acts condemned by the late Convention as treasonable. The Master was absent, but the two other gentlemen were present as prisoners. The Lords, after hearing evidence, declared the charge not proven, and caused Craik and Dalziel to be discharged.’

An Edinburgh tavern-bill of this date—apparently one for supper to a small party—makes us acquainted with some of the habits of the age. It is as follows, the
sums being expressed in Scottish money:


For broth

00 : 03 : 00

For rost mutton and cutlets

01 : 16 : 00

For on dish of hens 03 : 00 : 00
For harenes 00 : 05 : 00
For allmonds and rasens 01 : 06 : 00
For 3 lb. of confectiones 07 : 16 : 00
For bread and ale 01 : 00 : 00
For 3 pynts of clarite 06 : 00 : 00
For sack 02 : 16 : 00
For oysters fryed and raw 03 : 16 : 00
For brandie and sugare 00 : 06 : 00
For servants 02 : 02 : 00
Total 30 : 06 : 00

The sum in English money is equal to £2, 10s. 6½d. One remarkable fact is brought out by the document—namely, that claret was then charged at twenty pence sterling per quart in a public-house. This answers to a statement of Morer, in his Short Account of Scotland, 1702, that the Scots have ‘a thin-bodied claret at 10d. the mutchkin.’ Burt tells us that when he came to Scotland in 1725, this wine was to be had at one-and-fourpenec a bottle, but it was soon after raised to two shillings, although no change had been made upon the duty. It seems to have continued for some time at this latter price, as in an account of Mr James Hume to John Hoass, dated at Edinburgh in 1737 and 1739, there are several entries of claret at 2s. per bottle, while white wine is charged at one shilling per mutchkin (an English pint).

An Edinburgh dealer advertises liquors in 1720 at the following prices: ‘Neat claret wine at 11d., strong at 15d.; white wine at 12d.; Rherish at 16d.; old Hock at 20d.—all per bottle.’ Cherry sack was 28d. per pint. The same dealer had English ale at 4d. per bottle.

Burt, who, as an Englishman, could not have any general relish for a residence in the Scotland of that day, owns it to be one of the redeeming circumstances attending life in our northern region, that there was an abundance of ‘wholesome and agreeable drink’ in the form of French claret, which he found in every public-house of any note, except in the heart of the highlands, and sometimes even there.’ For what he here tells us, there is certainly abundance of support in the traditions of the country. The light wines of France for the gentlefolk, and twopenny ale for the commonalty, were the prevalent drinks of Scotland in the period we are now surveying, while sack, brandy, and punch for the one class, and usquebaugh for the other, were but little in use.

Comparatively cheap as claret was, it is surprising, considering the general narrowness of means, how much of it was drunk. In public-houses and in considerable mansions, it was very common to find it kept on the tap. A rustic hostel-wife, on getting a hogshead to her house, wonld let the gentlemen of her neighbourhood know of the event, and they would come to taste, remain to enjoy, and sometimes not disperse till the barrel was exhausted. The Laird of Culloden, as we learn from Burt, kept a hogshead on tap in his hall, ready for the service of all comers; and his accounts are alleged to shew that his annual consumpt of the article would now cost upwards of two thousand pounds. A precise statement as to quantity, even in a single instance, would here obviously be of importance, and fortunately it can be given. In Arniston House, the country residence of President Dundas, when Sheriff Cockburn was living there as a boy about 1750, there were sixteen hogsheads of claret used per annum.

Burt enables us to see how so much of the generous fluid could be disposed of in one house. He speaks of the hospitality of the Laird of Culloden as ‘almost without bounds. It is the custom of that house,’ says he, ‘at the first visit or introduction, to take up your freedom by cracking his nut (as he terms it), that is, a cocoa-shell, which holds a pint filled with champagne, or such other wine as you shall choose. You may guess, by the introduction, at the conclusion of the volume. Few go away sober at any time; and for the greatest part of his guests, in the conclusion, they cannot go at all.

‘This,’ it is added, ‘he partly brings about by artfully proposing after the public healths (which always imply bumpers) such private ones as he knows will pique the interest or inclinations of each particular person of the company, whose turn it is to take the lead to begin it in a brimmer; and he himself being always cheerful, and sometimes saying good things, his guests soon lose their guard, and then—I need say no more.

‘As the company are one after another disabled, two servants, who are all the while in waiting, take up the invalids with short poles in their chairs, as they sit (if not fallen down), and carry them to their beds; and still the hero holds out.

Mr Burton, in his Life of President Forbes, states that it was the custom at Culloden House in the days of John Forbes— Bumper John, he was called—to prize off the top of each successive cask of claret, and place it in the corner of the hall, to be emptied in pailfuls. The massive hall-table, which bore so many carouses, is still preserved as a venerable relic; and the deep saturation it has received from old libations of claret, prevents one from distinguishing the deseriptiou of wood of which it was constructed. Mr Burton found an expenditure of £40 sterling a month for claret in the accounts of the President.

Oct 6
At an early hour in the morning, seven gentlemen and two servants, all well armed, might have been seen leaving Inverness by the bridge over the Ness, and proceeding along the shore of the Moray Firth. Taking post in the wood of Bunchrew, they waited till they saw two gentlemen with servants coming in the opposite direction, when they rushed out into the road with an evidently hostile intent. The leader, seizing one of the gentlemen with his own hand, called out to his followers to take the other dead or alive, and immediately, by levelling their pistols at him, they induced him to give himself up to their mercy. The victorious party then caused the two gentlemen to dismount and give up their arms, mounted them on a couple of rough ponies, and rode off with them into the wild country.

This was entirely a piece of private war, in the style so much in vogue in the reign of the sixth James, but which had since declined, and was now approaching its final extinction. The leader of the assailants was Captain Simon Fraser, otherwise culled the Master of Lovat, the same personage who, as Lord Lovat, fifty years after, came to a public death on Tower-hill.

The father of this gentleman had recently succeeded a grandnephew as Lord Lovat; but his title to the peerage and estates, although really good, had been opposed under selfish and reckless views by the Earl of Tullibardine, son of the Marquis of Athole, and brother of the widow of the late Lovat; and as this earl chanced to be a secretary of state and the King’s commissioner to parliament, his opposition was formidable. Tullibardine’s wish was to establish a daughter of the late lord, a child of eleven years old, as the heiress, and marry her to one of his own sons. His sons, however, were boys; so he had to bethink him of a more suitable bridegroom in the person of Lord Salton, another branch of the house of Fraser. Meanwhile, Captain Simon, wily as a cat, and as relentless, sought to keep up his juster interest by similar means. He first tried to get the young lady into his power by help of a follower named Fraser of Tenechiel; but Tenechiel took a fit of repentance or terror in the midst of his enterprise, aud replaced the child in her mother’s keeping. Lord Salton was then hurried northward to the Dowager Lady Lovat’s house of Castle Downie, to woo his child-bride, and arrange for her being brought to safer lodgings in Athole. He went attended by Lord Mungo Murray, brother at once to the Earl of Tullibardine and the Dowager Lady Lovat. The Master, seeing no time was to be lost, brought a number of the chief gentlemen of his clan together at a house belonging to Fraser of Strichen, and had no difficulty in taking them bound under oaths to raise their followers for the advancement of his cause. It was by their aid that he had seized on Lord Salton and Lord Mungo Murray at the wood of Bnnehrew.

Lord Saiton and his friend were conducted amidst savage shouts and drawn dirks to the house of Fanellan, and there confined in separate apartments. The fiery cross was sent off, and the coronach cried round the country, to bring the faithful Frasers to the help of their young chief. A gallows was raised before the windows of the imprisoned gentlemen, as a hint of the decisive measures that might be taken with them. They saw hundreds of the clansmen arrive at muster on the green, with flags flying and bagpipes screaming, and heard their chief taking from them oaths of fidelity on their bare daggers. When five hundred were assembled—a week having now elapsed since the first assault—the Master put himself at their head, and went with his prisoners to Castle Downie, which he took into his care along with its mistress. The child, however, was safe from him, for she had been already transferred to a refuge in her uncle’s country of Athole. Fraser was, of course, mortified by her escape; but he wes a man fertile in expedients. He first dismissed his two prisoners, though not till Salton had bound himself under a forfeiture of eight thousand pounds to ‘interfere’ no more in his affairs. His plan was now to secure, at least, the dowager’s portion of the late lord’s means by marrying her. So, too, he calculated, would he embarrass the powerful Tullibardine in any further proceedings against himself.

That night, the lady’s three female attendants were removed from her by armed men; and one of them, on being brought back afterwards to take off her ladyship’s clothes, found her sitting in the utmost disorder and distress on the floor, surrounded by Fraser and his friends, himself trying by burned feathers to prevent her senses from leaving her, and the others eudeavouring to divest her of her stays. Robert Monro, minister of Abertarf then pronounced the words of the marriage-ceremony over her and the Master of Lovat. As the woman hurried out, she heard the screams of her mistress above the noise of the bagpipes played in the apartment adjacent to her bedroom; and when she came back next morning, she found the lady to appearance out of her judgment, and deprived of the power of speech. Lady Lovat was at this time a woman of about thirty-five years of age.

Such accounts of this outrage as reached the low country excited general horror, and Tullibardino easily obtained military assistance and letters of fire and sword against the Master of Lovat and his accomplices. The Master was not only supported by his father and other clansmen in what he had done, but even by the Earl of Argyle, who felt as a relative and old friend of the house, as well as an opponent of Tullibardine. On the approach of troops, he retired with his reluctant bride to the isle of Agais, a rough hill surrounded by the waters of the Beauly, where Sir Robert Peel spent the last summer of his life in an elegant modern villa, but which was then regarded as a Highland fastness. A herald, who ventured so far into the Fraser territory to deliver a citation, left the paper on a cleft stick opposite to the island. Fraser had several skirmishes with the government troops ; took prisoners, and dismissed them, after exacting their oaths to harass him no more; and, in short, for a year carried on a very pretty guerrilla war, everywhere dragging about with him his wretched wife, whose health completely gave way through exposure, fatigue, and mental distress. In September 1698, he and nineteen other gentlemen were tried in absence, and forfaulted for their crimes, which were held as treasonable—a stretch of authority which has since been severely commented on. At length, the Master —become, by the death of his father, Lord Lovat—tired of the troublous life he was leading, and by the advice of Argyle, went to London to solicit a pardon from the king. Strong influence being used, the king did remit all charges against him for raising war, but declined to pardon him for his violence to the Lady Lovat, from fear of offending Tullibardine. He was so emboldened as to resolve to stand trial for the alleged forced marriage; but it was to be in the style of an Earl of Bothwell or an Earl of Caithness in a former age. With a hundred Frasers at his back, did this singular man make his appearance in Edinburgh, in the second year before the beginning of the eighteenth century, to prefer a charge against the Earl of Tullibardine—perhaps the very last attempt that was made in Scotland to overbear justice. On the morning, however, of the day when the charge was to be made, his patron, Argyle, was informed by Lord Aberuchil, one of the judges (a Campbell), that if Fraser appeared he would find the judges had been corrupted, and his own destruction would certainly follow. He lost heart, and fled to England.

Nov 9
Sir Robert Dickson of Son-beg was one of a group of Edinburgh merchants of this age, who carried on business on a scale much beyond what the general circumstances of the country would lead us to expect. He at this time gave in a memorial to the king in London, bearing—’ In the year 1691, I with some others who did join with me, did engage ourselves to the Lords of your majesty’s Treasury in Scotland, by a tack of your customs and foreign excise, by which we did oblige ourselves to pay yearly, for the space of five years, the sum of twenty thousand three hundred pounds sterling. Conform to which tack, we continned as taeksmen during all the years thereof, and did punctually, without demanding the least abatement or defalcation, make payment of our whole tack-duty, save only the sum of six hundred pounds, which still remains in my hand unpaid, and which I am most willing to pay, upon the Lords of the Treasury granting me and my partners ane general discharge.’ Nevertheless, ‘the Lords of the Treasury have granted a warrant for seizing of my person, and committing me prisoner until I make payment of the sum of two thousand and three hundred pounds sterling more, which they allege to be due to the officers of state for wines, and which I humbly conceive I and my partners can never be obliged to pay, it being no part of my contract. And I humbly beg leave to inform your majesty that, if such a custom be introduced, it will very much diminish your nnijesty’s revenue; for it is not to be thought that we nor any other succeeding taeksmen can give such gratification over and above our tack-duty without a considerable allowance, and this still prejudges your majesty’s interest. [Sir Robert seems to mean that, if farmers of revenue have to give gratuities to officers of state, these must be deducted from the sum agreed to be paid to his majesty.] They were so forward in the prosecution of the said warrant, that I was neeessitat to leave the kingdom, and come here and make my application to your majesty.’ The memorial finally craved of the king that he would remit ‘ the dctermination of the said wines’ to the Lords of Session.

The Lords of the Privy Council had, of course, the usual dislike of deputies and commissions for seeing appeals taken against their decisions to the principal authority, and they embraced the first opportnnity of laying hold of the customs tacksman and putting him up in the Tolbooth. There he did not perhaps change his mind as to his non-liability in justice for two thousand three hundred pounds for presents of wine to the officers of state in connection with the farming or tack of the customs, being a good ten per cent, upon the whole transaction; but he probably soon became sensible that the Privy Council of Scotland was not a body he could safely contend with. The Lord Advocate speedily commenced a process against him, on the gronnd of his memorial to the king falling under the statute of King James V. for severe punishment to those who murmur any judge spiritual or temporal, and prove not the same; and on this charge he was brought before the Council (1st of February 1698). It was shewn that the charge for gratuities was ‘according to use and wont,’ and that the memorial was a high misdemeanour against their lordships; therefore inferring a severe punishment. As might have been expected, Sir Robert was glad to submit, and on his knee to crave pardon of their lordships, who thereupon discharged him.’

The reader, who has just seen some other Edinburgh merchants punished for imputing to state-officers the possibility of their being bribed with money, will probably smile when he sees another in trouble so soon after, for remonstrating against the necessity he had been under of actually giving them bribes.

It had occurred to Mr Charles Ritchie, minister of the gospel, to be asked by Lieutenant Whitehead, of Colonel Sir John Hill’s regiment at Fort-William, to join him in marriage with the colonel’s daughter, and the ceremony was performed in the presence of several of the officers of the regiment, the minister professing to know of no impediment to the union of the young couple. For this fact, Mr Charles had been carried to Edinburgh, and put up in the Tolbooth, where he languished without trial for several months. He now petitioned for release or banishment, stating that he had been kept in jail all this time ‘without any subsistence,’ and ‘is reduced to the greatest extremity, not only for want of any mean of subsistence, but also by want of any measure of health.’

The Council, viewing his consent to banishment, granted him that boon, he enacting himself bound to depart ‘furth of the kingdom’ before the 1st of February, and never to return without his majesty’s or the Council’s warrant to that effect.’

Throughout this year, there were protracted legal proceedings before the Privy Council, between Blair of Balthayock, in Perthshire, and Carnegie of Finhaven, in Forfarshire, in consequence of the latter having brought on a marriage between his daughter and a young minor, his pupil, Blair of Kinfauns, the relative of Balthayock. The affair ended in a condemnation of Finhaven and a fine of one hundred and fifty pounds, to be paid to Balthayock for his expenses in the action.

On the 20th September 1703, by which time Balthayock was dead, Finhaven presented a petition to the Privy Council, setting forth that he had not submitted to the sentence, but placed the sum of the fine in consignment, and thereupon was liberated. Balthayock had never called for the suspension; her majesty’s late gracious indemnity had discharged the fine, ‘the cause of which,’ he alleged, ‘was natural and ordinary, and the marriage every way suitable.’ There might be demur to the last particular, as young Kinfauns, when led into the marriage with Carnegie’s daughter, was only a boy. Nevertheless, the Council now ordained the money to be rendered back to the petitioner.

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