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 Queen Anne: 1702 - 1714 Part 4

1705, Mar 5
In the early part of 1704, the sense of indignity and wrong which had been inspired into the national mind by the Darien disasters and other circumstances, was deepened into a wrathful hatred by the seizure of a vessel named the Annaudale, which the African Company was preparing for a trading voyage to India. This proceeding, and the subsequent forfeiture of the vessel before the Court of Exchequer, were defensive acts of the East India Company, and there can be little doubt that they were grossly unjust. In the subsequent autumn, an English vessel, named the Worcester, belonging to what was called the Two Million Company (a rival to the East India Company), was driven by foul weather into the Firth of Forth. It was looked upon by the African Company as fair game for a reprisal. On the 12th August, the secretary, Mr Roderick Mackenzie, with a few associates, made an apparently friendly visit to the ship, and was entertained with a bowl of punch. Another party followed, and were received with equal hospitality. With only eleven half-armed friends, he that evening overpowered the officers and crew, and took the vessel into his possession. In the present temper of the nation, the act, questionable as it was in every respect, was sure to meet with general approbation.

Before Captain Green and the others had been many days in custody, strange hints were heard amongst them of a piratical attack they had committed in the preceding year upon a vessel off the coast of Malabar. The African Company had three years ago sent out a vessel, called the Speedy Return, to India, with one Drummond as its master, and it had never since been heard of. It was concluded that the people of the Worcester had captured the Speedy Return, and murdered its crew, and that Providence had arranged for their punishment, by sending them for shelter from a storm to the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. Vainly might it have been pointed out that there was no right evidence for even the fact of the piracy, still less for the Speedy Return being the subject of the offence. Truth and justice were wholly lost sight of in the universal thirst for vengeance against England and its selfish mercantile companies.

Green, the captain of the Worcester, Mather, the chief-mate, Reynolds, the second-mate, and fifteen others, were tried at this date before the Court of Admiralty, for the alleged crime of attacking a ship, having English or Scotch aboard, off the coast of Malabar, and subsequently murdering the crew—no specific vessel or person being mentioned as the subjects of the crime, and no nearer date being cited than the months of February, March, April, or May 1703. The jury had no difficulty in bringing them in guilty, and they were all condemned to be hanged on the sands of Leith, the usual place for the execution of pirates.

The English government was thrown into great anxiety by this violent proceeding, but they could make no effectual resistance to the current of public feeling in Scotland. There the general belief in the guilt of Green and his associates was corroborated after thc trial by three several confessions, admitting the piratical seizing of Drummond’s vessel, and the subsequent murder of himself and his crew—confessions which can now only be accounted for, like those of witches, on the theory of a desire to conciliate favour, and perhaps win pardon, by conceding so far to the popular prejudices. The queen sent down affidavits shewing that Drummond’s ship had in reality been taken by pirates at Madagascar, while himself was on shore—a view of the fact which there is now ample reason to believe to have been true. She also sent to the Privy Council the expression of her desire that the men should be respited for a time. But, beyond postponement for a week, all was in vain. The royal will was treated respectfully, but set aside on some technical irregularity. When the day approached for the execution of the first batch of the condemned, it became evident that there was no power in Scotland which could have saved these innocent men. The Council, we may well believe, would have gladly conceded to the royal will, but, placed as it was amidst an infuriated people, it had no freedom to act. On the fatal morning (11th April), its movements were jealously watched by a vast multitude, composed of something more than the ordinary citizens of Edinburgh, for on the previous day all the more ardent and determined persons living within many miles round had poured into the city to see that justice was done. No doubt can now be entertained that, if the authorities bad attempted to save the condemned from punishment, the mob would have torn them from the Tolbooth, and hung every one of them up in the street. What actually took place is described in a letter from Mr Alexander Wodrow to his father, the minister of Eastwood: ‘I wrote last night,’ he says, ‘of the uncertainty anent the condemned persons, and this morning things were yet at a greater uncertainty, for the current report was that ane express was come for a reprieve.

How this was, I have not yet learned; but the councillors went down to the Abbey [Palace of Holyrood] about eight, and came up to the Council-house about nine, against which time there was a strange gathering in the streets. The town continued in great confusion for two hours, while the Council was sitting, and a great rabble at the Netherbow port. All the guards in the Canongate were in readiness if any mob had arisen. About eleven, word came out of the Council [sitting in the Parliament Square] that three were to be hanged, namely - Captain Green, Mather and Simson. This appeased the mob, and made many post away to Leith, where many thousands had been [assembled] and were on the point of coming up in a great rage. When the chancellor came out, he got many huzzas at first; but at the Tron Kirk, some surmised to the mob that all this was but a sham; upon which they assaulted his coach, and broke the glasses, and forced him to come out and go into Mylne’s Square, and stay for a considerable time.

‘The three prisoners were brought with the Town-guards, accompanied with a vast mob. They went through all the Canongate, and out at the Water-port to Leith. There was a battalion of foot-guards, and also some of the horse-guards, drawn up at some distance from the place of execution. There was the greatest confluence of people there that ever I saw in my life, for they cared not how far they were oft; so be it they saw. Green was first execute, then Simson, and last of all Mather. They every one of them, when the rope was about their necks, denied they were guilty of that for which they were to die. This indeed put all people to a strange demur. There‘s only this to alleviate it, that they confessed no other particular sins more than that, even though they were posed anent their swearing and drunkenness, which was weel known."

Sep 11
The Scottish parliament was not much given to the patronising of literature. We have, indeed, seen it giving encouragement to Adair’s maps of the coasts, and Slezer’s views of the king’s and other mansions; but it was in a languid and ineffective way, by reason of the lack of funds. At this time, the assembled wisdom of the nation was pleased to pass an act enabling the town-council of Glasgow to impose two pennies (1/6th of a penny sterling) upon the pint of ale brewn and vended in that town; and out of this gift in favours of the town of Glasgow)’ as it was quite sincerely called, there was granted three thousand six hundred pounds (£300 sterling) to Mr James Anderson, writer to her majesty’s signet, ‘for enabling him to carry on an account of the ancient and original charters and seals of our kings in copper-plates.’ Why the ale-drinkers of Glasgow should have been called upon to furnish the country with engraved copies of its ancient charters, was a question which probably no one dreamed of asking.

In February 1707, the parliament, then about to close its existence, ordered to Mr Anderson the further sum of £590 sterling, to repay him for his outlay on the work, with a further sum of £1050 to enable him to go on and complete it. This was done after due examination by a committee, which reported favourably of the curious and valuable character of his collections. Soon after, the parliament, in consideration of the great sufferings of the town of Dundee in the time of the troubles and at the Revolution, aud of ‘the universal decay of trade, especially in that burgh,’ granted it an imposition of two pennies Scots on every pint of ale or beer made or sold in the town for twenty-four years; but this gift was burdened with a hundred pounds sterling per annum for six years to Mr James Anderson, as part of the sum the parliament had agreed to confer upon him for the encouragement of his labours.’

Died Alexander third Earl of Kincardine, unmarried, a nobleman of eccentric character. His father, the second earl, is spoken of by Burnet in the highest terms; his mother was a Dutch lady, Veronica, daughter of Corneiile, Lord of Sommelsdyke and Spycke. [Readers of Boswell with remember his infant daughter Veronica, with whom Johnson was pleased, so named from the biographers great-grandmother, Veronica, Countess of Kincardine]. The earl, now deceased, probably through his parental connection with the Low Countrie, had contracted the religious principles of the Flemish saint or seeress, Antonia Bourignon, which, like every other departure from pure Presbyterianism and the Westminster Confession, were detested in Scotland. Wodrow tells us: ‘I have it from very good hands, Lieutenant-colonel Erskine and Mr Allan Logan, who were frequently with him, that the late Earl of Kincardine did fast forty days and nights after he turned Burrignianist, and lived several years after. He was very loose before he turned to these errors; and after a while being in them, he turned loose again, and died in a very odd manner. Many thought him possessed. He would have uttered the most dreadful blasphemies that can be conceived, and he told some things done at a distance, and repeated Mr Allan Logan’s words, which he had in secret, and told things it was impossible for anybody to’

The more active minds of the country continued constantly seething with schemes for the promotion of industry, and the remedy of the standing evil of poverty. In this year there was published an Essay on the New Project of a Land Mint, which might be considered a type of the more visionary plans. It rested on what would now be called one of the commonplaces of false political economy. The proposed Land Mint was a kind of bank for the issue of notes, to be given only on landed security. Any one intending to borrow, say a thousand pounds of these notes, pledged unentailed land-property to that amount, plus interest and possible expenses, undertaking to pay back a fifth part each year, with interest on the outstanding amount, till all was discharged. It was thought that, by these means, money would be, as it were, created; the country would be spirited up to hopeful industrial undertakings; and—everything requiring a religious aspect in those days—the people would be enabled to resist the designs of a well-known sovereign, ‘aiming now at a Catholic monarchy ;.‘ for, while Louis XIV. might become sole master of the plate (that is, silver) of the world, what would it matter ‘if we and other nations should substitute another money, equal in all cases to plate?’ The only fear the author could bring himself to entertain, was as to possible counterfeiting of the notes. This being provided against by an ingenious expedient suggested by himself, there remained nq difficulty and no fear whatever.

1706, Mar
Although the incessant violences which we have seen mark an early period embraced by our Annals were no more, it cannot be said that the crimes of violent passion had become infrequent. On the contrary, it appeared as if the increasing licence of manners since the Revolution, and particularly the increasing drunkenness of the upper classes, were now giving occasion for a considerable number of homicides and murders. We have seen a notable example of reckless violence in the case of the Master of Rollo in 1695. There was about the same time a Laud of Kininmont, who—partly under the influence of a diseased brain—was allowed to commit a considerable number of manslaughters before it was thought necessary to arrest him in his course.

Archibald Houston, writer to the signet in Edinburgh, acted as factor for the estate of Braid, the property of his nephew, and in this capacity he had incurred the diligence of the law on account of some portion of Bishops’ rents which he had failed to pay. Robert Kennedy of Auchtyfardel, in Lanarkahire, receiving a commission to uplift these arrears, found it to be his duty to give Houston a charge of horning for his debt.

Mar 20
One day, Kennedy and his two sons left their house in the Castle Hill of Edinburgh, to go to the usual place of rendezvous at the Cross, when, passing along the Luckenbooth; he was accosted by Mr Houston with violent language, referring to the late legal proceedings. Kennedy, if his own account is to be trusted, gave no hard langnage in return, but made an effort to disengage himself from the unseemly scene, and moved on towards the Cross. Houston, however, followed and renewed the brawl, when it would appear that Gilbert Kennedy, Auchtyfardel’s eldest son, was provoked to strike his father’s assailant on the face. The people now began to flock about the party— Kennedy again moved on; but before he had got many paces away, he heard the sounds of a violent collision, and turned back with his cane uplifted to defend his son. It is alleged that Kennedy fell upon Houston with his cane—he had no weapon on his person—and while he did so, young Gilbert Kennedy drew his sword, and, rushing forward, wounded Houston mortally in the belly. The unfortunate man died a few days afterwards.’

Auchtyfardel’s share in this transaction was held to infer his liability to an arbitrary punishment. Gilbert fled, and was outlawed, but afterwards was permitted to return home, and in time he succeeded to his father’s estate. We hear of him in 1730, as having been brought by that sad act of his youth into a very serious and religious frame of life. He was an elder of the church, and took great care of the morals of his servants. A maid, whom he on one occasion reproved severely, was led, by a diabolic spite, to mix some arsenic with the bread and milk which she prepared for the family breakfast, and the death of Houston had very nearly been avenged at the distance of twentyfour years from its occurrence. Happily, through the aid of a physician, the laird and his family escaped destruction.

A case more characteristic of the age than that of young Auchtyfardel occurred in the ensuing year. David Ogilvie of Cluny, having first thrust himself upon a funeral-party at the village of Meigle, aud there done his best to promote hard drinking, insisted on accompanying two or three of the gentlemen on their way home, though his own lay another way. While proceeding along, he gave extreme annoyance to Andrew Cowpar, younger of Lochblair, by practical jokes of a gross kind, founded on the variance of sex in their respective horses. At length, Cowpar giving the other’s horse a switch across the face, to make it keep off, Ogilvie took violent offence at the act, demanded Cowpar’s whip under a threat of being otherwise pistolled, and, on a refusal, actually took out a pistol and shot his companion dead. The wretched murderer escaped abroad.

In January 1708, Robert Baird, son of Sir James Baird of Sauchtonhall, had a drinking-match in a tavern at Leith, where he particularly insisted on his friend, Mr Robert Oswald, being filled drunk. On Oswald resisting repeated bumpers, Baird demanded an apology from him, as if he had committed some breach of good-manners. He refused, and thus a drunken sense of resentment was engendered in the mind of Baird. At a late hour, they came up to Edinburgh in a coach, and leaving the vehicle at the Nether Bow, were no sooner on the street, than Baird drew his sword, and began to push at Oswald, upon whom he speedily inflicted two mortal wounds. He fled from the scene leaving a bloody and broken sword beside his expiring victim.

On the ground of its not being ‘forethought felony,’ Baird was some years afterwards allowed by the Court of Justiciary to have the benefit of Queen Anne’s act of indemnity.

Early in this month, Scotland was honoured with a visit from the celebrated Daniel Defoe. His noted power and probity as a Whig pamphleteer suggested to the English ministry the propriety of sending him down for a time to Edinburgh, to help on the cause of the Union. He came with sympathies for the people of Scotland, founded on what they had suffered under the last Stuart reigns. Instead of believing all to be barren and hopeless north of the Tweed, he viewed the country as one of great capabilities, requiring only peace and industry to become a scene of prosperity equal to what prevailed in England. To this end he deemed an incorporating union of the two countries necessary, and it was therefore with no small amount of good-will that he undertook the mission assigned to him.

Even, however, from one regarding it so fraternally as Defoe, Scotland was little disposed to accept a recommendation of that measure. It was in vain that he published a complaisant poem about the people, under the name of Caledonia, in which he commended their bravery, their learning, and abilities. Vainly did he declare himself their friend, anxious to promote their prosperity by pointing to improved agriculture, to fisheries, to commerce, and to manufactures. The Edinburgh people saw him daily closeted with the leaders of the party for the hated union, and that was enough. His pen displayed its wonted activity in answers to the objectors, and his natural good-humour seems never to have failed him, even when he was assailed with the most virulent abuse. But his enemies did not confine themselves to words: threats of assassination reached him. His lodgings were marked, and his footsteps were tracked; yet he held serenely on in his course. He even entered upon some little enterprises in the manufacture of linen, for the purpose of shewing the people what they might do for themselves, if they would adopt right methods, It appears that., during the tumults which took place in Edinburgh while the measure was passing through parliament, he was in real danger. One evening, when the mob was raging in the street, he looked out of his window to behold their proceedings, and was nearly hit by a large stone which some one threw at him, the populace making a point that no one should look over windows at them, lest he might recognise faces, and become a witness against individual culprits.

Defoe spent sixteen months in Scotland on this occasion, rendering much modest good service to the country, and receiving for it little remuneration besides abuse. Amongst other fruits of his industry during the period is his laborious work, The History of the Union of Great Britain. One could have wished a record tracing the daily life of this remarkable man in Scotland. We only get an obscure idea of some of his public transactions. One of the few private particulars we have learned, is that he paid a visit to the Duke of Queensberry at Drumlanrig, and by his Grace’s desire, took a view of his estates, with a view to the suggestion of improvements.

Defoe revisited Scotland in the summer of 1708, on a mission the purpose of which has not been ascertained; and again in the summer of 1709. His stay on the last occasion extended to nearly two years, during part of which time, in addition to constant supplies of articles for his Review in London, he acted as editor of the Edinburgh Courant newspaper.’ (See the next article).

1707, Mar 6
In a folio published this day by Captain James Donaldson, under the title of the Edinburgh Courant Reviewed, we learn that the Edinburgh Gazette, which, as we have seen, was commenced in 1699, had now succumbed to fate: damaged by the persevering policy of Adam Boig of the Courant, the Gazette ‘of late has been hid aside, as a thing that cannot be profitably carried on.’

Donaldson here reviews the charges made against his paper, as to partiality and staleness of news, defends it to some extent, but practicaliy admits the latter fault, by stating that he was about to remedy it. He was going to recommence the Edinburgh Gazette in a new series, in which he would take a little more liberty, and give stories as they come; without waiting, as before, for their authentication, though taking care where they were doubtful to intimate as much. The Gazette did, accordingly, resume its existance on the 25th of the same month, as a twice-a-week paper. The first number contains three advertisements, one of a sale of house-property, another of the wares of the Leith glass-work, and a third as follows: ‘There is a gentleman in town, who has an secret which was imparted to him by his father, an eminent physician in this kingdom, which by the blessing of God cures the Phrensie and Convulsion Pits. He takes no reward for his pains till the cure be perfyted. He will be found at the Caledonian Coffeehouse.’

In a series of the Gazette extending from the commencement to the 140th number, published on the 2d September 1708, there is a remarkable sterility of home-news, and anything that is told is told in a dry and sententious way. The following alone seem worthy of transcription:

‘LEITH, May 19 1707 - Last Saturday, about 50 merchant ships, bound for Holland, sailed from our Road, under convoy of two Dutch men-of-war.’

‘EDINBURGH, August 5.—This day the Equivalent Money came in here from South Britain, in thirteen waggons drawn by six horses.’

Sep. 30.—’Dyer’s Letter says: Daniel de Foe is believed by this time in the hands of justice at the complaint of the Swedish minister, and now a certain man of law may have an opportunity to reckon with him for a crime which made him trip to Scotland, and make him oblige the world with another Hymn to the Pillory.’

Strange to say, ]ess than three years after this date, namely, in February 1710, the ‘unabashed Defoe’ was conducting the rival newspaper in Edinburgh—the Courant—sueceeding in this office Adam Boig, who had died in the preceding month. The authority of Defoe for his editorship appears in the following decree of the Town Council:

‘Att Edinburgh the first day of February

‘The same day The Councill authorized Mr Daniel Defoe to print the Edinburgh Currant in place of the deceast Adam Bog Discharging hereby any other person to print News under the name of the Edinburgh Currant.’

The advertisements are also very scanty, seldom above three or four, and most of these repeated frequently, as if they were reprinted gratuitously, in order to make an appearance of business in this line. The following are selected as curious:

May 13, 1707.—’ This is to give notice to all who have occasion for a black hersse, murning-coach, and other coaches, just new, and in good order, with good horses well accoutred, that James Mouat, coachmaster in Lawrence Ord’s Land at the foot of the Canongate, will serve them thankfully at reasonable rates.’

‘Ralph Agutter of London, lately come to Edinburgh, Musical Instrument-maker, is to be found at Widow Pool’s, perfumer of gloves, at her lionse in Stonelaw’s Close, a little below the Steps; makes the Violin, Bass Violin, Tenor Violin, the Viol de G-ambo, the Lute Quiver, the Trumpet Marine, the Harp; and mendeth and putteth in order and stringeth all those instruments as fine as any man whatsoever in the three kingdoms, or elsewhere, and mendeth the Virginal, Spinnat, and harpsichord, all at reasonable rates.’

Oct. 16.—’ There is just now come to town the Excellent Scarburray Water, good for all diseases whatsomever except consumption; and this being the time of year for drinking the same, especially at the fall of the leaf and the bud, the price of each chopin bottle is fivepence, the bottle never required, or three shilling without the bottle. Any person who has a mind for the same may come to the Fountain Close within the Netherbow of Edinburgh, at William Mudie’s, where the Scarsbun’ay woman sells the same.’

August 12, 1708.—’ George Williamson, translator alias cobbler in Edinburgh, commonly known by the name of Bowed Geordie, who swims on face, back, or any posture),forwards or backwards; plums- dowks, and performs all the antics that any swimmer can do, is willing to attend any gentleman, and to teach them to swim, or perform his antics for their divertisement: is to be found in Luckie Reid’s at the foot of Gray’s Close, on the south side of the street, Edinburgh.’

In September 1707, it is advertised that at the Meal Girnel of Primrose, oatmeal, the produce of the place, was sold at four pounds Scots the boll for the crop of 1706, while the crop of the preceding year was £3, 13s. 4d.; in the one case, 6s. 8d.; in the other, 6s. 4d. sterling.

Apr 2
The Master of Burleigh—eldest son of Lord Balfour of Burleigh, a peer possessed of considerable estates in Fife—had fallen in love with a girl of humble rank, and was sent abroad by his friends, in the hope that time and change of scene would save him from making a low marriage. He was heard to declare before going, that if she married in his absence, he would take the life of her husband. The girl was, nevertheless, married to Henry Stenhouse, schoolmaster of Inverkeithing. The Master was one of those hot-headed persons whom it is scarcely safe to leave at large, and who yet do not in general manifest the symptoms that justify restraint. Learning that his mistress was married, and to whom, he came at this date with two or three mounted servants to the door of the poor schoolmaster, who, at his request, came forth from amongst his pupils to speak to the young gentleman.

‘I am the Master of Burleigh. You have spoken to my disadvantage, and I am come to fight you.’

‘I never saw you before,’ said the schoolmaster, ‘and I am sure I never said anything against you.’

‘I must nevertheless fight with you, and if you won’t, I will at once shoot you.’

‘It would be hard,’ said the schoolmaster, ‘to force a man who never injured you into a fight. I have neither horse nor arms, and it is against my principles to fight duels.’

‘You must nevertheless fight,’ said the Master, ‘or be shot instantly;’ and so saying, he held a pistol to Stenhouse’s breast.

The young man continuing to excuse himself, Balfour at length fired, and gave the schoolmaster a mortal wound in the shoulder, saying with savage cruelty: ‘Take that to be doing with.’ Then, seeing that an alarm had arisen among the neighbours, he rode on brandishing a drawn sword, and calling out: ‘Hold the deserter!’ in order to divert the attention of the populace. The unfortunate schoolmaster died in a few days of his wound.

The Master for a time escaped pursuit, but at length he was brought to trial, Jnly 28, 1709, and adjudged to be beheaded at the Cross of Edinburgh, on the ensuing 6th of January. During this unusually long interval, he escaped from the Tolbooth by changing clothes with his sister. He was not again heard of till May 1714, when he appeared amongst a number of Jacobite gentlemen at the Cross of Lochmaben, to drink the health of James VIII. The family title had by this time devolved on him by the death of his father; but his property had all been escheat by sentence of the Court of Justiciary. His appearance in the rebellion of 1715, completed by attainder the ruin of his family, and he died unmarried and in obscurity in 1757.’

Apr 26
A great flock of the Deipitinus Deductor, or Ca’ing Whale—a cete about twenty-five feet long—came into the Firth of Forth, ‘roaring, plunging, and threshing upon one another, to the great terror of all who heard the same.’ It is not uncommon for this denizen of the arctic seas to appear in considerable numbers on the coasts of Zetland; and occasionally they present themselves on the shores of Caithness and Sutherlandshire; but to come so far south as the Firth of Forth is very rare: hence the astonishment which the incident seems to have created. The contemporary chronicler goes on to state: ‘Thirty-five of them were run ashore upon the sands of Kirkcaldy, where they made yet a more dreadfat roaring and tossing when they found themselves aground, insomuch that the earth trembled.’ ‘What the unusual appearance of so great a number of them at this juncture the union of the kingdoms may portend shall not be our business to inquire.’

The fifteenth article of the treaty of Union provided that England should pay to Scotland the sum of £398,085, 10s, because of the arrangement for the equality of trade between the two countries having necessitated that Scotland should henceforth pay equal taxes with England—a rule which would otherwise have been inequitable towards Scotland, considering that a part of the English revenue was required for payment of the interest on her seventeen millions of national debt. It was likewise provided by the act of Union, that out of this Equivalent Money, as it was called, the commissioners to be appointed for managing it should, in the first place, pay for any loss to be incurred by the renovation of the coin; in the second, should discharge the losses of the African Company, which thereupon was to cease; the overplus to be applied for payment of the comparatively trifling state-debts of Scotland, and to furnish premiums to the extent of £2000 a year for the improvement of the growth of wool for seven years—afterwards for the improvement of fisheries and other branches of the national industry.

Defoe, who was now living in Scotland, tells how those who hated the Union spoke and acted about the Equivalent. The money not being paid in Scotland on the very day of the incorporation of the two countries, the first talk was—the English have cheated us, and will never pay; they intended it all along. Then an idea got abroad, that by the non-payment the Union was dissolved; ‘and there was a discourse of some gentlemen who came up to the Cross of Edinburgh, and protested, in the name of the whole Scots nation, that, the conditions of the treaty not being complied with, and the terms performed, the whole was void.’ At length, in August, the money came in twelve wagons, guarded by a party of Scots dragoons, and was carried directly to the Castle. Then those who had formerly been loudest in denouncing the English for not forwarding the money, became furious because it was come. They hooted at the train as it moved along the street, cursing the soldiers who guarded it, and even the horses which drew it. One person of high station called out that those who brought that money deserved to be cut to pieces. The excitement increased so much before the money was secured in the Castle, that the mob pelted the carters and horses on their return into the streets, and several of the former were much hurt.

It was soon discovered that, after all, only £100,000 of the money was in specie, the rest being in Exchequer bills, which the Bank of England had ignorantly supposed to be welcome in all parts of her majesty’s dominions. This gave rise to new clamours. It was said the English had tricked them by sending paper instead of money. Bills, only payable four hundred miles off, and which, if lost or burned, would be irrecoverable, were a pretty price for the obligation Scotland had come under to pay English taxes. The impossibility of satisfying or pleasing a defeated party was never better exemplified.

The commissioners of the Equivalent soon settled themselves in one of Mr Robert Mylne’s houses in Mylne’s Court, and proceeded to apply the money in terms of the act. One of their first proceedings was to send to London for £50,000 in gold, in substitution for so much of paper-money, that they might, as far as possible, do away with the last clamour. ‘Nor had this been able to carry them through the payment, had they not very prudently taken all the Exchequer bills that any one brought them, and given bills of exchange for them payable in London. Defoe adverts to a noble individual—doubtless the Duke of Hamilton—who came for payment of his share of the African Company’s stock (3000), with the interest, and who refused to take any of the Exchequer bills, probably thinking thus to create some embarrassment; but the commissioners instantly ordered the claim to be liquidated in gold.

Notwithstanding all the ravings and revilings about the Equivalent, Defoe assures us that, amongst time most malcontent persons he never found any who, having African stock, refused to take their share of the unhallowed money in exchange for it. Even the despised Exchequer bills were all despatched so quickly, that, in six months, not one was to be seen in the country.

Out of the Equivalent, the larger portion—namely, £229,611, 4s. 8d—went to replace the lost capital of the African Company, and so could not be considered as rendered to the nation at large. For ‘recoiling the Scots and foreign money, and reducing it to the standard of the coin of England,’ £49,888, 14s. 11d. was expended. There was likewise spent out of this fund, for the expenses of the commissioners and secretaries who had been engaged in carrying through the Union, £30,498, 12g. 2d. After making sundry other payments for public objects, there remained in 1713 but £16,575, 14s. unexpended.

We shall afterwards see further proceedings in the matter of the Equivalent.

Oct 3
Walter Scott of Raeburn, grandson of the Quaker Raeburn who suffered so long an imprisonment for his opinions in the reign of Charles II., fought a duel with Mark Pringle, youngest son of Andrew Pringle of Clifton. It arose from a quarrel the two gentlemen had the day before at the bead-court of Selkirk, They were both of them young men, Scott being only twenty-four years of age, although already four years married, and a father. The contest was fought with swords in a field near the town, and Raeburn was killed. The scene of this melancholy tragedy has ever since been known as
Raeburn’s Meadow-spot.

Pringle escaped abroad; became a merchant in Spain; and falling, on one occasion, into the hands of the Moors, underwent such a series of hardships, as, with the Scottish religious views of that age, he might well regard as a Heaven-directed retribution for his rash act. Eventually, however, realising a fortune, he returned with honour and credit to his native country, and purchased the estate of Crichton in Edinburghshire. He died in 1751, having survived the unhappy affair of Raeburn’s Meadow-spot for forty-four years; and his grandson, succeeding to the principal estate of the family, became Pringle of Clifton.

The sixteenth article of the act of Union, while decreeing that a separate mint should be kept up in Scotland ‘under the same rules as the mint in Eugland’—an arrangement afterwards broken through—concluded that the money thereafter used, should be of the same standard and fineness throughout the United Kingdom. It thus became necessary to call in all the existing coin of Scotland, and substitute for it money uniform with that of England. It was at the same time provided by the act of Union, that any loss incurred by the renewal of the coin of Scotland should be compensated out of the fund called the Equivalent.

The business of the change of coinage being taken into consideration by the Privy Council of Scotland, several plans for effecting it were laid before that august body; but none seemed so suitable or expedient as one proposed by the Bank of Scotland, which was to this effect: The Directors undertook to receive in all the species that were to be recoined, at such times as should be determined by the Privy Council, and to issue bank-notes or current money for the same, in the option of the in giver of the old species, and the Privy Council allowing a half per cent. to the Bank for defraying charges, the old money to be taken to the mint and coined into new money, which should afterwards replace the notes.

Mr David Drummond, treasurer of the Bank, 'a gentleman of primitive virtue and singular probity,’ according to Thomas Rnddiman—a hearty Jacobite, too, if his enemies did not belie him—had a chief hand in the business of the renovation of the coin, about which he communicated to Ruddiman some memoranda be had taken at the time.

‘There was brought into the Bank of Scotland in the year 1707:

Value in Sterling Money.

Of foreign silver money, . . .                                                                   £132,080 : 17 : 00
Milled Scottish coins [improved coniage eqivelent to 1673], . . . .                 96,856 : 13 : 00
Coins struck by hammer [the older Scottish coin]                                     142,180 : 00 : 00
English milled coin                                                                                   40,000 : 00 : 00
£411,117 : 10 : 00

This sum, no doubt, made up by far the greatest part of the silver coined money current in Scotland at that time; but it was not to be expected that the whole money of that kind could be brought into the bank; for the folly of a few misers, or the fear that people might have of losing their money, or various other dangers and accidents, prevented very many of the old Scots coins from being brought in. A great part of these the goldsmiths, in after-time; consumed by melting them down; some of them have been exported to foreign countries; a few are yet [1738] in private hands.

Ruddiman, finding that, during the time between December 1602 and April 1613, there was rather more estimated value of gold than of silver coined in the Scottish mint, arrived at the conclusion (though not without great hesitation), that there was more value of gold coin in Scotland in 1707 than of silver, and that the sum-total of gold and silver money together, at the time of the Union, was consequently ‘not less than nine hundred thousand pounds sterling.’ We are told, however, in the History of the Bank of Scotland, under 1699, that ‘nothing answers among the common people but silver-money, even gold being little known amongst them;’ and Defoe more explicitly says, ‘there was at this time no Scots gold coin current, or to be seen, except a few preserved for antiquity. It therefore seems quite inadmissible that the Scottish gold coin in 1707 amounted to nearly so much as Ruddiman conjectures. More probably, it was not £30,000.

It wonld appear that the Scottish copper-money was not called in at the Union, and Ruddiman speaks of it in 1738 as nearly worn out of existence, ‘so that the scarcity of copper-money does now occasion frequent complaints.’

If the outstanding silver-money be reckoned at £60,000, the gold at £30,000, and the copper at £60,000, the entire metallic money in use in Scotland in 1707 would be under six hundred thousand pounds sterling in value. It is not unworthy of observation, as an illustration of the advance of wealth in the country since that time, that a private gentlewoman died in 1841, with a nearly equal sum at her account in the banks, besides other property to at least an equal amount.

In March 1708, while the renovation of the coinage was going on, the French fleet, with the Chevalier de St George on board, appeared at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, designing to invade the country. The Bank got a great alarm, for it ‘had a very large sum lying in the mint in ingots,’ and a considerable sum of the old coin in its own coffers, ‘besides a large sum in current species; all of which could not have easily been carried off and concealed.' The danger, however, soon blew over. ‘Those in power at the time, fearing lest, all our silver-money having been brought into our treasury, or into the Bank, a little before, there should be a want of money for the expenses of the war, ordered the forty-shilling pieces to be again issued out of the banks; of which sort of coin there was great plenty at that time in Scotland, and commanded these to be distributed for pay to the soldiers and other exigencies of the public; but when that disturbance was settled, they ordered that kind of money also to be brought into the bank; and on a computation being made, it was found that the quantity of that kind, brought in the second time, exceeded that which was brought in the first time by at least four thousand pounds sterling.

We are told by the historian of the Bank, that ‘the whole nation was most sensible of the great benefit that did rebound from the Bank’s undertaking and effectuating the recoinage, and in the meantime keeping up an uninterrupted circulation of money.’ Its good service was represented to the queen, considered by the Lords of the Treasury and Barons of Exchequer, and reported on favourably. ‘But her majesty’s death intervening, and a variety of public affairs on that occasion and since occurring, the directors have not found a convenient opportunity for prosecuting their just claim on the government’s favour and reward for that seasonable and very useful service.’

Nov 3
Mr John Strahan, Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, was at this time owner of Craigcrook, a romantically situated old manor-house under the lee of Corstorphine Hill—afterwards for many years the residence of Lord Jeffrey. Strahan had also a house in the High Street of Edinburgh. He was the owner of considerable wealth, the bulk of which he ultimately ‘mortified’ for the support of poor old men, women, and orphans; a charity which still flourishes.

Strahan had a servant named Helen Bell to keep his town mansion, and probably she was left a good deal by herself. As other young women in her situation will do, she admitted young men to see her in her master’s house. On Hallowe’en night this year, she received a visit from two young artisans, William Thomson and John Robertson, whom she happened to inform that on Monday morning—that is, the second morning thereafter—she was to go out to Craigcrook, leaving the town-house of course empty.

Abont five o’clock on Monday morning, accordingly, this innocent young woman locked up her master’s house, and set forth on her brief journey, little reckning that it was the last she would ever undertake in this world. As she was proceeding through the silent streets, her two male friends joined her, telling her they were going part of her way; and she gave them a couple of bottles and the key of the house to carry, in order to lighten her burden. On coining to a difficult part of the way, called the Three Steps, at the foot of the Castle Rock, the two men threw her down and killed her with a hammet They then returned to town, with the design of searching Mr Strahan’s house for money.

According to the subsequent confession of Thomson, as they returned through the Grassmarket, they swore to each other to give their souls and bodies to the devil, if ever either of them should inform against the other, even in the event of their being captured. In the empty streets, in the dull gray of the morning, agitated by the horrid reflections arising from their barbarous act and its probable consequences, it is not very wonderful that almost any sort of hallucination should have taken possession of these miserable men. It was stated by them that on Robertson proposing that their engagement should be engrossed in a bond, a man started up between them in the middle of the West Bow, and offered to write the bond, which they had agreed to subscribe with their blood; but on Thomson’s demurring, this stranger immediately disappeared. No contemporary of course could be at any loss to surmise who this stranger was.

The two murderers having made their way into Mr Strahau’s house, broke open his study, and the chest where his cash was kept. They found there a thousand pounds sterling, in bags of fifty pounds each, ‘all milled money,’ except one hundred pounds, which was in gold; all of which they carried off. Robertson proposed to set the house on fire before their departnre; but Thomson said he had done wickedness enough already, and was resolved not to commit more, even though Robertson should attempt to murder him for his refusal.

Mr Strahan adverlised a reward of five hundred merks for the detection of the perpetrator or perpetrators of these atrocities but for some weeks no trace of thc guilty men was discovered. At length, some suspicion lighting upon Thomson, he was taken up, and, having made a voluntary confession of the murder and robbery, he expiated his offence in the Grassmarkct.’

Dec 3
A poor man named Hunter, a shoemaker in the Potterrow, Edinburgh, had become possesed of a ‘factory’ for the uplifting of ten or eleven pounds of wages due to one Guine, a seaman, for services in a ship of the African Company. The money was now payable out of the Equivalent, but certain signatures were required which it was not possible to obtain. With the aid of a couple of low notaries and two other persons, these signatures were forged, and the money was then drawn.

Detection having followed, the case came before the Court of Session, who viewed it in a light more grave than seems now reasonable, and remitted it to the Lords of Justiciary. The result reminds us of the doings of Justice, when she did act, in the reign of James VI. Hunter and Strachan, a notary, were hanged on the 18th of February, ‘as an example to the terror of others,’ says Fountainhall. Three other persons, including a notary, were glad to save themselves from a trial, by voluntary banishment. ‘Some moved that they might he delivered to a captain of the recruits, to serve as soldiers in Flanders; but the other method was judged more legal.’

Dec 30
The parish of Spott, in East Lothian, having no communion cups of its own, was accustomed to borrow those of the neighbouring parish of Stenton, when required. The Stenton kirk-session latterly tired of this benevolence, and resolved to charge half-a-crown each time their cups were borrowed by Spott. Spott then felt a little ashamed of its deficiency of communion-cups, and resolved to provide itself with a pair. Towards the sum required, the minister was directed to take all the foreign coin now in the box, as it was to be no longer current, and such further sum as might be necessary.

The parish is soon after found sanctioning the account of Thomas Kerr, an Edinburgh goldsmith, for ‘ane pair of communion-cups, weighing 33 oz. 6 drops, at £3, 16g. per oz.,’ being £126, 12s. in all, Scots money, besides ‘two shillings sterling of drink-money given to the goldsmith’s men.’

The Union produced some immediate effects of a remarkable nature on the industry and traffic of Scotland—not all of them good, it must be owned, but this solely by reason of the erroneous laws in respect of trade which existed in England, and to which Scotland was obliged to conform.

Scotland had immediately to cease importing wines, brandy, and all things produced by France; with no remeed but what was supplied by the smuggler. This was one branch of her public or ostensible commerce now entirely destroyed. She had also, in conformity with England, to cease exporting her wool. This, however, was an evil not wholly unalleviated, as will presently be seen.

Before this time, as admitted by Defoe, the Scotch people had ‘begun to come to some perfection in making broad cloth; druggets, and woollen stuffs of all sorts.’ Now that there was no longer a prohibition of English goods of the same kind; these began to come in in such great quantity, and at such prices, as at once extinguished the superior woollen manufacture in Scotland. There remained the manufacture of coarse cloth; as Stirling serge; Musselburgh stuff; and the like; and this now rather flourished, partly because the wool, being forbidden to be sent abroad, could be had at a lower price, and partly because these goods came into demand in England. Of course, the people at large were injured by not getting the best price for their wool, and benefited by getting the finer English woollen goods at a cheaper rate than they had formerly paid for their own manufactures of the same kinds; but no one saw such matters in such a light at that time. The object everywhere held in view was to benefit trade—that is, everybody’s peculium, as distinguished from the general good. The general good was left to see after itself, after everybody’s peculium had been served; and small enough were the crumbs usually left to it.

On the other hand, duties being taken off Scottish linen introduced into England, there was immediately a large increase to that branch of the national industry. Englishmen came down and established works for sail-cloth, for damasks, and other linen articles heretofore hardly known in the north; and thus it was remarked there was as much employment for the poor as in the best days of the woollen manufacture.

The colonial trade being now, moreover, open to Scottish enterprise, there was an immediate stimulus to the building of ships for that market. Cargoes of Scottish goods went out in great quantity, in exchange for colonial products brought in. According to Defoe, ‘several ships were laden for Virginia and Barbadoes the very first year after the Union.’

We get a striking idea of the small scale on which the earlier commercial efforts were conducted, from a fact noted by Wodrow, as to a loss made by the Glasgow merchants in the autumn of 1709. ‘In the beginning of this month November,’ says he, ‘Borrowstounness and Glasgow have suffered very much by the fleet going to Holland, its being taken by the French. It’s said that in all there is about eighty thousand pounds sterling lost there, whereof Glasgow has lost ten thousand pounds. I wish trading persons ‘nay see the language of such a providence. I am sure the Lord is remarkably frowning upon our trade, in more respects than one, since it was put in the room of religion, in the late alteration of our constitution.’

When one thinks of the present superb wealth and commercial distinction of the Queen of the West, it is impossible to withhold a smile at Wodrow’s remarks on its loss of ten thousand pounds. Yet the fact is that up to this time Glasgow had but a petty trade, chiefly in sugar, herrings, and coarse woollen wares. Its tobacco trade, the origin of its grandeur, is understood to date only from 1707, and it was not till 1718 that Glasgow sent any vessel belonging to itself across the Atlantic. Sir John Dalrymple, writing shortly before 1788, says: ‘I once asked the late Provost Cochrane of Glasgow, who was eminently wise, and who has been a merchant there for seventy year; to what causes he imputed the sudden rise of Glasgow. He said it was all owing to four young men of talents and spirit, who started at one time in business; and whose success gave example to the rest. The four had not ten thousand pounds amongst them when they began.’

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